All of the 2017 NCAA college football preseason watch lists have now been released and a handful of Pitt players have made the cut for the various awards. These preseason lists are usually very broad and not necessarily final, but they do provide talking points and encourage fan discussion.
With 19 seniors graduating from last year’s team, the Panthers lost most of last year’s watch list nominees like Dorian Johnson, James Conner and Adam Bisnowaty to the NFL draft. However, the Panthers do return Jordan Whitehead, who led the Panthers with four nominations (Thorpe, Hornung, Bednarik and Nagurski) in 2016.
This year, the Panthers are lead by Whitehead, who was nominated to four watch lists for the second consecutive season. Whitehead appears on the Bednarik watch list, which is awarded to the NCAA’s defensive player of the year, the Nagurski watch list, another defensive player of the year list, except nominated by the FWAA. Whitehead is also nominated as a Thorpe award watch list finalist, which is given to the best defensive back in the nation and is on the list for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nations most versatile player.
Also named to multiple lists was Pitt First Team All-American Quadree Henderson, who was nominated for the Maxwell Watch List, which goes to the Player of the Year. Henderson, who finished 10th in the nation in all-purpose yards in 2016, also joins teammate Whitehead on the Paul Hornung Award watch list.
Henderson has also been named to the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award watch list. The Walter Camp Player of the Year award is given to college football’s best player as voted by coaches and sports information directors. Henderson was one of only 40 players named.
Piesman award winner Brian O’Neill made the Outland Trophy watch list for best offensive lineman in the nation, as well as the Wuerffel watch list, which is given for community service.
Pitt center Alex Officer also makes the Outland watch list, but was not one of the nominees for the Riminton watch list, which goes to the best center.
Jester Weah, who finished last year with 36 catches for 870 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was second in the NCAA with 24.17 yards per reception, was named to the Biletnikoff watch list, given annually to the best receiver in college football.
No Panther made the cut for the Rimington (center), Mackey (tight end), Groza (kicker), Ray Guy (punter), Doak Walker (running back), or O’Brien (quarterback) watch lists.