TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three Seminoles are featured on the Maxwell and Bednarik Award watch lists, released Monday, as running back Cam Akers and quarterback Deondre Francois are included on the Maxwell Award Watch List and defensive end Brian Burns is on the Bednarik Award Watch List.
Akers rushed for 1,024 yards in 2017 to break Florida State’s freshman rushing record previously held by Dalvin Cook and post the ninth-best single-season rushing total in program history. Akers was named third-team All-ACC after his true freshman campaign, which saw him average 5.3 yards per carry with seven touchdowns and grab 16 receptions for 116 yards and one score. The Clinton, Mississippi, native posted four 100-yard rushing games, including a 199-yard, two-touchdown performance in a victory over Syracuse. His 199 yards were the second-highest single-game rushing total by an FSU freshman and ranked 14th on the program’s all-time single-game performance list.
Francois was limited to one game in 2017 after a season-ending injury during the fourth quarter of the season opener against No. 1 Alabama. In that game, he was 19-of-33 passing for 210 yards and one touchdown before his injury. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, the Orlando native was named ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns and adding 198 yards and five touchdowns rushing. His passing total, which was boosted by five 300-yard passing games, was the fifth-highest single-season output in program history. Francois led the Seminoles to a win in the Orange Bowl by throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yard score that was the longest in Orange Bowl history and a game-winning eight-yard scoring toss with 36 seconds remaining, and adding 23 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Burns started all 13 games in 2017 and totaled 48 tackles, including a team-leading 13.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked punts. He tied for first in the ACC and third nationally with two blocked kicks, and his tackles for loss total tied for ninth in the conference. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native was a force at No. 4 Clemson, recording a season-high seven tackles, including 4.5 for loss with 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery to become the first player in program history with two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in the same game. He finished the season on a tear, recording 9.5 tackles for loss with 4.0 sacks over the Seminoles’ final five games.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995 and is named in honor of College and NFL Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Oct. 29, with three finalists being announced Nov. 19. The winners will be announced live on ESPN as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 6.