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Penn State Football: Trio of Nittany Lions Land on Award Watch Lists

by on July 16, 2019 12:00 PM

It's watch list season and Penn State sophomore wide receiver KJ Hamler was named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award for the National Player of the Year while junior defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and sophomore linebacker Micah Parsons both landed on the preseason Bednarik Award watch list for the National Defensive Player of the Year.

This is the second preseason list for Gross-Matos, who was named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list in May.

Penn State is tied for the national lead among all colleges and universities with its seven Maxwell Award winners. The Nittany Lions' four Bednarik Award recipients are the most of any school in the nation.

The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell's contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.

The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67.

Hamler was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player and also collected Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and The Athletic last season as a kick returner last season. He also earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades as both a wide receiver and return specialist

Gross-Matos, who is also on the Lott IMPACT Trophy preseason watch list, claimed first-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference’s media last season. The junior finished second in the Big Ten and No. 12 in FBS with 1.5 tackles for loss per game in 2018. He was also eighth in the Big Ten and No. 47 nationally in sacks per game (0.62). 

Parsons was chosen as Freshman All-American by The Athletic, 247Sports and ESPN to go along with his honorable-mention All-Big Ten laurels. He finished the season, leading the Nittany Lions with 83 tackles, becoming the first freshman (true or redshirt) in Penn State history to lead the team in tackles in a season.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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