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These players with Utah ties have been named to college football award watch lists

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Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall takes the snap.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) takes the snap as the BYU Cougars and Idaho State Bengals play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Deseret News is tracking the release of this year’s college football preseason watch lists. Come back for updates on what Utah ties make the lists for the sport’s top awards.

Bednarik Award

College defensive player of the year

  • Siaki “Apu” Ika, junior DL, Baylor: In his first season at Baylor in 2021 after transferring from LSU, the East High product was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and garnered All-Big 12 Second Team honors.
  • Clark Phillips III, sophomore CB, Utah: Highly touted coming out of high school in 2020, Phillips has lived up to the billing thus far, having started in all 19 games possible he’s been at Utah. In 2021, he was named to multiple All-Pac-12 second teams after tallying 63 tackles (one for loss), two forced fumbles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions.
  • Keenan Pili, junior LB, BYU: Pili, a Timpview High product, missed much of the 2021 season with a torn ACL he suffered in the Cougars’ third game. Before that, though, Pili showed why he was a team captain, putting up 31 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a QB hurry in helping BYU get off to a 3-0 start.
  • Noah Sewell, sophomore LB, Oregon: The Orem High graduate was tremendous in his freshman season for Oregon in 2021 and was named a Butkus Award semifinalist and Pac-12 All-Conference first team honoree by the Associated Press.

2021 Bednarik Award winner: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1995): None

Walter Camp Player of the Year

College football’s player of the year

  • Jaren Hall, junior QB, BYU: Hall, a Maple Mountain High product, led the Cougars to a 10-3 record in his first season as a starter last year while throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 307 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
  • Noah Sewell, sophomore LB, Oregon: The Orem High graduate was tremendous in his freshman season for Oregon in 2021 and was named a Butkus Award semifinalist and Pac-12 All-Conference first team honoree by the Associated Press.
  • Tavion Thomas, junior RB, Utah: Thomas emerged as the Utes’ starting running back last season and rushed for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns — third-most nationally, and a school single-season record — while averaging 105.6 yards rushing in Pac-12 games only, second-best in the conference.

2021 Camp Award winner: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1967): None

Wuerffel Trophy

College football’s premier award for community service

  • Tyler Batty, sophomore DE, BYU: Batty created and operates Edward’s Hands, a non-profit organization that provides equine therapy for children with autism, and he is also very involved in BYU’s Built4Life and True Blue Hero programs.
  • Andre Grayson, senior CB, Utah State: Already a graduate who is now working on his master’s degree, Grayson still spends a great deal of time with various groups and organizations on campus at Utah State and in the community.
  • Dalton Kincaid, senior TE, Utah: Kincaid has tried to make an impact off the field since transferring to Utah from San Diego in 2019. In 2020, he was given the Utah Athletes in Service Award on campus for his work with kids, especially those with autism.

2021 Wuerffel Trophy winner: Isaiah Sanders, QB, Stanford

Previous local winners (first awarded in 2005): None  

Groza Award

Nation’s best placekicker

  • Jake Oldroyd, junior K, BYU: A finalist in 2020 for the award, Oldroyd had a bit of a down year in 2021 as he missed three games because of back issues, but he still made 42 of 43 PAT attempts (he holds the school record with 72 straight made PATs). He is expected to be good to go this fall and is still one of the most accurate kickers in the country from long distances.

2021 Groza Award winner: Jake Moody, K, Michigan

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1992): Matt Gay, 2017, Utah.

Guy Award

Nation’s best punter

  • Ryan Rehkow, sophomore P, BYU: Rehkow played in all 13 games in 2021 as a punter and PAT holder and still finished the season ranked No. 5 in the nation with a punting average of 48.58, the highest average by any freshman. He placed 16 of 40 punts inside the 20-yard line and set a new BYU record with an 83-yard punt.
  • Stephen Kotsanlee, junior P, Utah State: Utah State’s punter the last two seasons, the Aussie has become one of the most consistent players at his position in the Mountain West Conference.

2021 Guy Award winner: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

Previous local winners (first awarded in 2000): Tom Hackett, 2014 and 2015, Utah; Mitch Wishnowsky, 2016, Utah.

Outland Trophy

Nation’s best interior lineman

  • Clark Barrington, junior OL, BYU: A two-year starter on the BYU offensive line, Barrington has a lot of hype entering this season, as he has been named a preseason All-America by four organizations. The 6-6, 302-pound left guard started all 13 games in 2021. 
  • Braeden Daniels, junior OL, Utah: A versatile player, Daniels garnered All-Pac-12 accolades last season after starting all 14 games at either guard or tackle. In all, he has made 29 starts in 35 career games at Utah.
  • Alfred Edwards, senior OL, Utah State: A longtime leader on Utah State’s offensive line, Edwards garnered honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors last season after starting 13 games and gave up just two sacks.
  • Blake Freeland, junior OL, BYU: The big 6-foot-8, 305-pounder started all 13 games for the Cougars in 2021 and received postseason accolades from various outlets as BYU’s offensive line was excellent.
  • Siaki “Apu” Ika, junior DL, Baylor: In his first season at Baylor in 2021 after transferring from LSU, the East High product was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and garnered All-Big 12 Second Team honors.
  • Junior Tafuna, sophomore DL, Utah: A relative unknown entering his freshman season last year, Tafuna burst onto the scene and wound up winning Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year as he started 11 of 13 games at left tackle and tallied 33 tackles on the season (5.5 for loss) with 4.5 sacks, plus one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.

2021 Outland Trophy winner: Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1946): Merlin Olsen, 1961, Utah State; Jason Buck, 1986, BYU; Mohammed Elewonibi, 1989, BYU; Penei Sewell, 2019, East High (Oregon).

Nagurski Trophy

Nation’s best defensive player

  • Siaki “Apu” Ika, junior DL, Baylor: In his first season at Baylor in 2021 after transferring from LSU, the East High product was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and garnered All-Big 12 Second Team honors.
  • Clark Phillips III, sophomore CB, Utah: Highly touted coming out of high school in 2020, Phillips has lived up to the billing thus far, having started in all 19 games possible he’s been at Utah. In 2021, he was named to multiple All-Pac-12 second teams after tallying 63 tackles (one for loss), two forced fumbles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions.
  • Noah Sewell, sophomore LB, Oregon: The Orem High graduate was tremendous in his freshman season for Oregon in 2021 and was named a Butkus Award semifinalist and Pac-12 All-Conference first team honoree by the Associated Press.
  • Junior Tafuna, sophomore DL, Utah: A relative unknown entering his freshman season last year, Tafuna burst onto the scene and wound up winning Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year as he started 11 of 13 games at left tackle and tallied 33 tackles on the season (5.5 for loss) with 4.5 sacks, plus one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.
  • Payton Wilgar, junior LB, BYU: The one-time walk-on has been a mainstay at linebacker for BYU the past few seasons and finished 2021 second on the team in assisted tackles with 27, tackles for loss with six, third in total tackles with 56 and solo tackles with 29. He missed the last three games of the campaign because of injury but is expected to be back at full health this fall.

2021 Nagurski Trophy winner: Will Anderson Jr., LB, Alabama

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1993): None

Butkus Award

Nation’s best linebacker

  • Ben Bywater, sophomore LB, BYU: A relative unknown entering last season, Bywater replaced Keenan Pili after a season-ending injury and was excellent. The Olympus High product wound up leading BYU in total tackles with 102 and tackles for loss with 8.5.
  • Levani Damuni, senior LB, Stanford: The Ridgeline High product had a real breakout campaign as a junior for Stanford in 2021 and led the team with 88 tackles (49 solo) and added five tackles for loss, two sacks and a quarterback hurry.
  • Mohamoud Diabate, senior LB, Utah: A transfer from Florida this season, Diabate was a part-time starter in three campaigns there. In all, Diabate has tallied 89 tackles (2.5 for loss) in his collegiate career and will look to help replace Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell.
  • Noah Sewell, sophomore LB, Oregon: Speaking of the Sewell family, Noah Sewell was tremendous in his freshman season for Oregon in 2021 after graduating from Orem High and was named a Butkus Award semifinalist and Pac-12 All-Conference first team honoree by the Associated Press.
  • Payton Wilgar, junior LB, BYU: The one-time walk-on has been a mainstay at linebacker for BYU the past few seasons and finished 2021 second on the team in assisted tackles with 27, tackles for loss with six, third in total tackles with 56 and solo tackles with 29. He missed the last three games of the campaign because of injury but is expected to be back at full health this fall. 

2021 Butkus Award winner: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1985): None

Thorpe Award

Nation’s best defensive back

  • Cole Bishop, sophomore S, Utah: Largely an unknown entering his true freshman season in 2021, Bishop was great and progressively got more impactful as the campaign went on. He ended up being named Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention and had eight tackles, a one-yard tackle for loss and a fumble recovery in the Rose Bowl.
  • Clark Phillips III, sophomore CB, Utah: Highly touted coming out of high school in 2020, Phillips has lived up to the billing thus far, having started in all 19 games possible he’s been at Utah. In 2021, he was named to multiple All-Pac-12 second teams after tallying 63 tackles (one for loss), two forced fumbles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions.

2021 Thorpe Award winner: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1986): None

Mackey Award

Nation’s best tight end

  • Dalton Kincaid, senior TE, Utah: In an extremely talented tight end room at Utah, Kincaid was excellent in 2021, finishing with 36 catches for 510 yards with eight touchdowns. That touchdown number was third in the Pac-12 overall (first among tight ends) and fifth in FBS among tight ends, which led to him garnering Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention recognition.
  • Cameron Latu, senior TE, Alabama: A graduate of Olympus High in Salt Lake City, Latu’s career at Alabama started slow before he switched from a linebacker/defensive end hybrid to tight end. Last season, he was excellent for the Crimson Tide at tight end, setting a new program record for touchdown catches by a tight end with eight.
  • Isaac Rex, sophomore TE, BYU: Rex had a down production year in 2021 compared to 2020 as quarterback Jaren Hall looked to other targets more, and he was also hurt near the end of the season (he said at media day earlier this summer that he will be ready to start the 2022 campaign), but he showed in 2020 that he can be very effective, as he finished with 429 yards on 37 catches with 12 touchdowns.

2021 Mackey Award winner: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

Previous local winners (first awarded in 2000): None

Rimington Trophy

Nation’s best college center

  • Connor Pay, sophomore C, BYU: A graduate of Lone Peak High not far from BYU’s campus, Pay came into his own as the 2021 season progressed. He played in all 13 games, started five at right guard and then started the last five at center when James Empey got hurt.

2021 Rimington Trophy winner: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Previous local winners (first awarded in 2000): None

Biletnikoff Award

Nation’s most outstanding college football receiver

  • Puka Nacua, junior WR, BYU: After transferring from Washington, Nacua led the Cougars with 805 receiving yards last season, on 43 receptions — good enough for 18.7 yards per catch. He had four games with more than 100 yards receiving.

2021 Biletnikoff Award winner: Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1994): None

Doak Walker Award

Nation’s premier college running back

  • Tavion Thomas, junior RB, Utah: Thomas emerged as the Utes’ starting running back last season and rushed for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns — third-most nationally, and a school single-season record — while averaging 105.6 yards rushing in Pac-12 games only, second-best in the conference.
  • Calvin Tyler Jr., senior RB, Utah State: Tyler, a transfer from Oregon State, led the Aggies’ rushing attack last season in his first year in Logan, running for 884 yards and seven touchdowns with a 4.5 yards-per-carry average. That included four games with 100 or more rushing yards.

2021 Doak Walker Award winner: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1990): Luke Staley, BYU, 2001

Davey O’Brien Award

Nation’s best college quarterback

  • Logan Bonner, senior QB, Utah State: Bonner, a transfer from Arkansas State, set five single-season school records in 2021, including passing yards (3,628) and touchdown passes (36), while completing 61% of his passes and leading the Aggies to the Mountain West Conference championship. 
  • Jaren Hall, junior QB, BYU: Hall, a Maple Mountain High product, led the Cougars to a 10-3 record in his first season as a starter last year while throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 307 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
  • Cam Rising, junior QB, Utah: Rising took over the Utes’ starting job midway into the team’s third game last season and led Utah to a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl appearance while throwing for 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 499 rushing yards with six rushing touchdowns.

2021 Davey O’Brien Award winner: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1981): Jim McMahon, BYU (Roy High), 1981; Steve Young, BYU, 1983; Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990 and 1991

Maxwell Award

College player of the year

  • Logan Bonner, senior QB, Utah State: Bonner, a transfer from Arkansas State, set five single-season school records in 2021, including passing yards (3,628) and touchdown passes (36), while completing 61% of his passes and leading the Aggies to the Mountain West Conference championship.
  • Jaren Hall, junior QB, BYU: Hall, a Maple Mountain High product, led the Cougars to a 10-3 record in his first season as a starter last year while throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 307 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
  • Cam Rising, junior QB, Utah: Rising took over the Utes’ starting job midway into the team’s third game last season and led Utah to a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl appearance while throwing for 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 499 rushing yards with six rushing touchdowns.
  • Tavion Thomas, junior RB, Utah: Thomas emerged as the Utes’ starting running back last season and rushed for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns — third-most nationally, and a school single-season record — while averaging 105.6 yards rushing in Pac-12 games only, second-best in the conference.

2021 Maxwell Award winner: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Previous local winners (first awarded in 1937): Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990