By Jess Westendorf
On Monday morning, the Maxwell Football Club announced that Iowa football seniors Akrum Wadley and Josey Jewell were named to the 2017 Maxwell Award Watch List and the 2017 Bednarik Award Trophy Watch List, respectively.
The club awards the Maxwell Award each year to the College Football’s Player of the Year.
Wadley’s junior year brought big numbers, and he was a much-needed playmaker for the Hawkeye offense.
After becoming one of the main weapons for an offense that needed some kind of spark, there is no question Wadley belongs on the watch list.
Last season, the 5-11 explosive running back led the Hawkeyes with 1,396 yards. He also scored 13 touchdowns, putting him at the top in Iowa scoring with 78 points.
The Michigan game on Nov. 12, 2016, is a prime example of his capabilities. He rushed 167 yards and led Iowa to a monumental upset of No. 2 Michigan. It was Iowa’s first win over an AP top-2 team since 1985.
He has also carved his name in the Iowa record books. He averages 6.2 yards per carry, which ranks the highest among Iowa running backs with 1,000-plus career rushing yards.
The native of Newark, New Jersey, has long been a force in the backfield, and he has high hopes for another stellar season.
Jewell was named to the Bednarik Watch List, an award given to the nation’s top college defensive player.
He follows former Iowa Hawkeye Desmond King, who was a semifinalist 2016 for the award.
FILE – In this file photo, Iowa defensive lineman Josey Jewell walks to line of scrimmage during the Iowa-NDSU game at Kinnick on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Margaret Kispert/The Daily Iowan, file)
This time last year, Jewell was named to the 2016 Butkus Award Watch List, and he ended up one of five finalists.
Last season, Jewell started every game for the Hawkeyes at middle linebacker. He led the team with 124 tackles, which put him second in the Big Ten.
The Decorah, Iowa, native has had a major effect on the Hawkeye defense. He has started 30-consecutive games since 2014 and notched 301 career tackles to tie for 18th in school history and was named Iowa’s Most Valuable Player on defense along with second-team All-Big Ten by the Associated Press and Big Ten coaches and media.
Not only does he have a presence on the football field but also off. He has been named to Iowa’s Leadership Group each year since 2014.
In 2014, he was one of two redshirt freshman named to the group, the only sophomore in 2015, and one of seven juniors in 2016.
It was a given that Jewell’s name would end up on the list for this upcoming season. Wadley joins him as well.
Maxwell semifinalists will be announced on Oct. 30 of this year and finalists for the awards will be announced on Nov. 20.
The winners of the award will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 7.