Want a sign that college football is getting closer? The early award watch lists were released on Monday morning. USC Sophomore running back Stephen Carr was one of 85 players named to the Watch list for the Maxwell award which is given to the best college football player in the nation.
During his freshman season, Carr rushed for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns on 65 carries while also racking up 17 catches for 188 yards. Unfortunately for Carr, he missed 5 games due to a foot injury. The sophomore running back missed spring camp due to back surgery, however he is on schedule to appear at fall camp.
Carr is expected to be a focal point of the Trojans rushing attack this season with the departure of Ronald Jones II. When healthy, Carr is very difficult to tackle with his speed and shiftiness when changing directions which adds another element to the ground game.
Carr wasn’t the only Trojan to be named to a watch list. Three USC defensive seniors highlighted the watch list for the Bednarik award which is given to the best defensive football player in college football. Outside linebacker Porter Gustin, middle linebacker Cameron Smit, and safety Marvell Tell.
This puts USC with Alabama, Michigan, and Clemson for the most players on Bednarik watch list at three.
Porter Gustin was a key force for the USC pass rush in the 4 games he played before being shut down for the season due to injury. This season he is primed to have an All-American season during his senior year.
On the inside, Cameron Smith have been one of the Trojans most important players during his 3 years at USC. Smith tallied team leading 112 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery last season. Those numbers earned him first team All-Pac-12 honors. Smith opted to forego the NFL draft to return for his senior season at USC.
Marvell Tell also skipped the NFL draft to return for his senior season at USC. The safety made first team All-Pac-12 last season during a productive junior season coming in third on the team in tackles, three interceptions with two of them being returned for a touchdown, and adding on 2.5 tackles for loss.
The last USC player to win the Bednarik Award was linebacker Rey Maualuga back in 2008 during his senior season. If you want to find the last Trojan to win the Maxwell Award, then you’d have to go back all the way to 1981 when USC’s legendary running back Marcus Allen took home the award. It was also the year Allen won the Heisman Trophy award.