The Maxwell Award is presented annually to the college football player judged on by a panel of sportswriters, sportscasters, NCAA head coaches and members of the Maxwell Football Club. It’s widely recognized as arguably the second-most prestigious award in college football, behind the Heisman Memorial Trophy.
Later this summer, the award watch list will unveil a player from all 130 FBS teams so we thought we’d take some time today to outline who we think should represent Cal as well as who could represent the Golden Bears nationally.
Odds are this one goes to QB Chase Garbers as his potential impact on Cal’s win-loss record this fall will be paramount to anyone else listed, so we’ll start with Garbers.
He’s a terrific signal-caller when healthy and his health will ultimately be the deciding factor not only towards his individual success but also the team’s. Garbers was terrific last season but was definitely at his best down the tail end, after his return from injury.
From Week 13 on, Garbers threw six touchdowns compared to just one interception and had 788 yards come on just 59 completions. He diced up defenses through the air and found a ton of success on the ground against Stanford and UCLA. He’ll stand in the pocket and throw what the defenses give him with relative ease but can make plenty of plays outside of structure when called upon.
His three-game tear at the end of the season only bodes well for his chances to not only win some games but also bring in some hardware, so it won’t be surprising if head coach Justin Wilcox nominates Garbers as his offseason pick for Maxwell Award watch list.
So, after Garbers, the list is short but it is experienced as both Camryn Bynum and Elijah Hicks could also make noise on the Maxwell Award watch list. Typically, though, it’s given to an offensive player like the Heisman is but Bynum and Hicks both represent the kind of defensive players that could warrant such a selection.
They both have top-end speed for their positions and both have incredible versatility to play both safety and at cornerback. Not to mention, there’s a ton of plays on the ball in the secondary for them to replace now that Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins are pro-bound.
Bynum himself has recorded over 20 combined pass breakups and interceptions in his career while Hicks cracked the double-digit mark last year. It’s without a doubt that these two will make noise during the season this fall but it’s likely that we’ll hear more about them for the Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive player.
Outside of Garbers on the offensive side of the ball, I’d expect running back Christopher Brown to get a few votes from opposing coaches as he has all the makings of topping the 1,000-yard plateau in the backfield this fall. He was close last year as he reached 913 yards on 206 carries and had eight touchdowns.
With a new offensive game plan, it’s likely he’ll see more carries this season and have an even better chance at topping 1,000 yards early in the year. If that happens, expect noise for Brown Jr. to receive Maxwell thoughts as well as Doak Walker Award talk for nation’s top RB.
These are my thoughts as I look over the roster. It’s hard not to talk positional importance and value when it comes to awards in college football, but especially when we talk about awards.
Who would be your choices for candidates for the Maxwell Award on this Cal team?