How do you know football is almost here? No, not the annual sports media positional rankings that feature stupid errors and logical fails. I'm talking about preseason watch lists for the various CFB awards! And the best part is, three Gophers will start the year as potential award winners. To the Twitters!
Congrats to Maxx Williams who is one of 40 tights ends named to the @JohnMackeyAward Preseason Award Watch List. pic.twitter.com/sx37fdWv12— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) July 8, 2014
Congrats to center Tommy Olson, who was named to the @rimingtontrophy watch list today. #Gophers pic.twitter.com/CfnszUK0Dy— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) July 8, 2014
Congrats @PMortell37 on being named one of 25 punters to @RayGuyAward watch list. (Gif via @TheDailyGopher) #Gophers http://t.co/4uQ92uveiC— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) July 9, 2014
What's At Stake?
For Maxx Williams, it's the chance to win the John Mackey Award for best TE in college football. For Tommy Olson, it's a shot at the Rimington Trophy which is awarded to the best center in CFB. And for Peter Mortell, the Ray Guy award for the best college punter may await.
What Gophers Have Won These Awards?
Greg Eslinger won the Rimmington Trophy (and the Outland too) in 2005. Matt Spaeth won the Mackey in 2006, and no Gopher has ever been awarded the Ray Guy.
Who Stands The Best Chance At Winning?
I'd love to say all three, but I think we know that isn't likely. In my opinion, the least likely winner is Tommy Olson. Unless the run offense moves from above average to completely dominant, I don't think Tommy the Tank will win over the Rimington voters. I think the same is true of Maxx. If Mitch Leidner becomes the passing threat we all want him to be, Maxx may have the numbers to be a finalist, but as of now I don't think we can assume enough of a change to the offense to predict a Maxx victory.
No, I think the player with the best chance to take home some individual hardware is Peter Mortell. If he continues to hone his craft and is able to expand the GIF-able punting moments, he could very well see himself in contention for the Ray Guy at the end of the season, regardless of how the team does as a whole. If that's the case, I think Gopher fans will enjoy the ride a great deal, as by all accounts Peter is a fun and goofy guy:
"Hey @AdrianPeterson I hear we are sharing lockers at TCF Bank next year," Mortell wrote on his Twitter feed (@PMortell37). "Keep your side clean, and we won’t have any issues. #Gophers."
The Gophers punter was kidding, of course, just as he was last month when word spread that a Gophers defensive line recruit from Alabama, Gary Moore, can squat 680 pounds.
"Finally," Mortell tweeted. "I hated being the only one."
Mortell hopes his social media followers, and everyone else, have a sense a humor.
"I’m just a goofball," he said after a recent spring practice.
No matter what, I'm excited to cheer for all three of the team's nominees and the rest of the Gophers as the season draws closer.
Seriously everyone, we're only 45 days out.