The Maxwell Award is given annually to the best player in college football. It shouldn't come as much surprise, then, that Pitt's two highest-profile football players, James Conner and Tyler Boyd, have been named to the watchlist for that honor.
Both were shoe-ins to be named to the preseason list. Conner was a semifinalist for the award last year and Boyd is being heralded as one of the top wide receivers in the country. Really, it would have been surprising if either didn't make the cut.
Boyd or Conner actually winning won't be an easy feat, though. Pitt would likely need to have a very strong year or either player would have to be so far and away the best player in the country that picking anyone else wouldn't make much sense. The Panthers don't need to contend for a national championship as Conner proved last year making the semifinal round on a .500 team. But Pitt will probably need to take a big step forward and win 9-10 games for either to win it.
Further hampering their chances is the fact that a quarterback almost always wins. A player at that position has earned the award in 13 of the past 15 years and the last non-QB offensive player to win it was running back Larry Johnson way back in 2002 (linebacker Manti Te'o won it in 2012). To say that Conner and Boyd have their work cut out for them is an understatement. Running backs have won the award in the past (three did in the 1990s), but recently, this has been an award given to quarterbacks.
Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green are the two Pitt players that have received the award in the past.
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