2013 Preseason Award Projections: Maxwell Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2013 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2014 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Maxwell Award is given to the best player in college football. Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Maxwell Award Winner:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

The Maxwell Award is dominated by quarterbacks. Even though the award is stated to go to the best player in college football, it almost always goes to an offensive player, with a quarterback wins in a typical year. Since 2000, the only non-quarterbacks who won the Maxwell Award were Te’o and Penn State running back Larry Johnson in 2002. With that being the case, it would be a surprise if the award didn’t go to a quarterback this season. Boyd should produce a massive senior season and nobody would be surprised if the signal-caller wins the Maxwell Award.

College football’s coaches selected Boyd as the First-Team All-American quarterback last year. It was a bit of a surprise as the junior was selected over Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and many other quality signal-callers. While it shocked some that Boyd was the pick, it made a lot of sense. He carried Clemson to an 11-2 record despite an awful defense and a suspect offensive line. Boyd was, simply put, excellent.

The second-year starter dominated the ACC in 2012 and put up huge totals on a weekly basis. Boyd completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also ran well with 769 yards (514 net) and 10 touchdowns on the ground. To end the season, Boyd took a pounding from LSU’s defensive front seven, but led Clemson to a fourth-quarter comeback win in the final seconds.

The Tigers have lost No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL, but they still have good talent at the skill positions led by speedy play-maker Sammy Watkins. Boyd plays in a weak conference, so he should have no problems lighting up weak ACC defenses in 2013. I think there is a good chance that the senior repeats with another impressive season that carries his team to a good record. I think Boyd’s numbers will be more impressive than Manziel’s or Bridgewater’s. Thus, Boyd is my runner-up for the Maxwell Award.

Maxwell Award Runner-Up:

Braxton Miller, Ohio State

One mistake I could be making with these postseason award projections is not projecting Miller to bring home more hardware. He’s a runner and a thrower in a spread-option offense, and could put up staggering numbers in 2013. Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has produced massive years for signal-callers in the past at Utah with Alex Smith and at Florida with Tim Tebow. Miller has the skill set and the easy schedule to produce a dominant year with a huge stat line. The Maxwell Award has had a preference for dual-threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Tim Tebow (twice), Vince Young and Jason White.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Miller is a great athlete with play-making ability. His completion percentage last year rose to 58 percent as he threw for 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. The sophomore also picked up 1,271 yards and 13 touchowns on the ground. Miller saw his first action as a freshman in 2011 and completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,159 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He ran for 951 yards (715 net) and seven touchdowns, too.

Everyone expects Miller to build on his sophomore year performance in 2013. The junior could produce a season of around 4,000 total yards and 40 all-purpose touchdowns. It wouldn’t be surprising if he carries the Buckeyes to another undefeated season and is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Miller could end up being one of the most productive and best players in college football in 2013, and could easily win the Maxwell Award.

Maxwell Award Dark Horse:

Brett Hundley, UCLA

Hundley fits the same criteria as Boyd and Miller. He is a dual-threat quarterback who is capable of producing a massive season. Hundley has a good arm with some natural accuracy, mobility and a quality supporting cast.

Hundley took the Pac-12 by storm last year, leading the Bruins to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The redshirt freshman completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,740 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 702 yards (355 net) with nine touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder has a good skill set and is getting good preparation from UCLA’s coaching staff led by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora, Jr.

Hundley could be even better after gaining a year of experience going against Pac-12 defenses. If the sophomore builds on his numbers from last year, he should be a finalist for a lot of postseason awards.

Honorable Mentions: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, San Jose State quarterback David Fales, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Washington quarterback Keith Price.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Florida running back Matt Jones, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas, Oklahoma running back Damien Williams, Florida State running back James Wilder, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, Texas A&M running back Ben Malena, Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins, LSU running back Stephen Hill, Miami running back Duke Williams and Washington running back Bishop Sankey.

USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman, Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff, UCLA wide receiver Shaq Harris, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson, Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker and Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell.

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