The Kansas football team is one of 16 programs nationwide to land two players on the Maxwell Award’s preseason watch list.
Preseason all-Big 12 picks Jalon Daniels, the league’s top returning QB, and running back Devin Neal, KU’s top returning rusher, became the first KU duo to be named to the list in 14 years, when Todd Reesing and wideout Dezmon Briscoe were both on the watch list in 2009.
The last Jayhawk to be on the list at all was former KU running back Pooka Williams in 2020.
The Maxwell Award has been presented to college football’s Player of the Year since 1937 and is named in honor of Robert “Tiny” Maxwell, who was a former standout at Swarthmore College and a renowned sportswriter and football official.
The preseason watch list features 85 players, including 2022 winner Caleb Williams of USC.
Earlier this month, Daniels was named the Big 12’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on the heels of a breakout performance in 2022.
The Lawndale, California native, who recently showed up to Big 12 Media Days in a flashy suit with a necklace featuring a video of his highlights hanging from it, earned second-team all-Big 12 honors a season ago after throwing for 2,014 yards and 18 TDs while adding 425 yards and 7 TDs as a rusher. All of that came in limited action, as Daniels missed a handful of games midway through the season because of a shoulder injury.
He returned late in the season and capped things off with a record-setting showing in a loss at the Liberty Bowl, where he threw for 544 yards and 5 TDs while rushing for another score.
Meanwhile, Neal is the conference’s lone returning 1,000-yard rusher from 2022. Last season, he became the 13th Jayhawk in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, racking up 1,090 yards and 9 touchdowns on 180 attempts.
Both players are critical parts of a Kansas offense that was among the most explosive in the country a season ago. With most of its starting unit back and several key reserves returning as well, the Jayhawks are expecting even bigger things in 2023.
KU’s preseason camp officially gets going on Tuesday. The regular season opens 31 days later, when KU plays host to Missouri State at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
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