Taylor Kelly, Jaelen Strong among six ASU football players named to preseason award watch lists

Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly appeared on preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly appeared on preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Six Sun Devils were included in the preseason award watch lists for the upcoming football season.

An ASU player appeared on 10 of the 17 watch lists, including two Player of the Year awards in the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award.

Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly, junior running back D.J. Foster and redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong were all named on the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award is given to the best player in college football as voted on by a committee of head coaches, sportscasters, sportswriters and members of the Maxwell Football Club. Ten of the last 11 winners have been quarterbacks, including last year’s winner, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.

Kelly also appeared on the watch lists for the Walter Camp Award, given to the best player as voted on by Division I-A head coaches, as well as the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award given to the most outstanding quarterback. Kelly threw for more than 3,600 yards with 28 touchdowns last season and led ASU to its first 10-win season since 2007.

Kelly is not the only player to appear on multiple lists. Foster is also on the watch lists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best running back, and the Paul Hornung Award, which is given to college football’s most versatile player.

Foster earned the recognition by showing his prowess in both the running and passing game last season. He finished with 501 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and also accumulated 653 yards and four touchdowns on the receiving end of Kelly’s passes.

Strong was also named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, given to the best wide receiver. Strong caught 75 passes for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns in his first year with the Sun Devils last season.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas also appeared on two watch lists. Douglas will be in contention for the Outland Trophy, given to the best offensive or defensive interior lineman as voted on by the Football Writers Association of America, as well as the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is given to the best offensive or defensive lineman.

Douglas was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team last season after starting every game for ASU and blocking for fellow second-teamers Kelly and running back Marion Grice.

The Sun Devil offense is even more well-represented. Redshirt senior tight end De’Marieya Nelson was named to the John Mackey award watch list, given to the nation’s best tight end. Nelson was not even a regular starter on the offense last season and only caught seven passes. He made a lot out of those seven catches though, turning them into 107 yards and two touchdowns.

Lastly, sophomore place kicker Zane Gonzalez was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list, given to the best kicker. Gonzalez hit 25 of his attempted 30 field goal tries last season, tying the NCAA record for field goals made by a freshman and breaking the ASU record for points scored by a kicker.

The attention shown to the ASU offense adds more to the hope that it will be an even better unit than the one that scored the second-most points in the Pac-12 last season. Perhaps the biggest tool for motivation that comes out of this for the Sun Devils is that not a single one of their defensive players made any of the preseason watch lists.

 

Reach the reporter at hkossodo@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @HKossodo