Sure, they’re subjective as can be, but for fans, they’re also the start of a bread crumb trail that leads straight through the dog days of summer to the opening of preseason camp.
And there, that’s where college football officially starts.
On Monday, four University of Utah football players were announced to be on national award preseason watch lists as the start of Utah’s 2018 fall camp nears on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Headlining the crew is junior running back Zack Moss, who was named to the 2018 Maxwell Award preseason watch list. The 82nd annual Maxwell Award will be handed out this fall, which is given to America’s top college football player since 1937.
Moss, the 5-foot-10, 217-pound bruising tailback from Hialeah Gardens, Fla., finished the 2017 season with 1,173 yards on 214 carries and 10 rushing touchdowns. He played in all 13 games in Utah’s 7-6 campaign, starting 12. Moss averaged 90.2 yards per game as a sophomore and led the team in all-purpose yards with 1,416 total yards. He set a career-high in yards in Utah’s bowl-clinching win over Colorado with 196 and later followed that up with 150 yards in the win against West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
He’s on the preseason watch list alongside the nation’s top young talents, including Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Ohio State’s Nick Boss, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Washington’s Jake Browning.
Along with Moss, Utah’s Julian Blackmon and Bradlee Anae were each named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list, which recognizes college football’s best defensive player.
Blackmon, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback from Layton, has taken up a role in Utah’s long line of standout defensive backs. The local kid turned into a star his sophomore season finishing as an all-second-team Pac-12 selection, starting 13 games and leading the Utes in interceptions with four. Blackmon’s two interceptions in the Heart of Dallas Bowl win earned the junior the game’s MVP honors.
Anae will, once again, be a primary feature on Utah’s defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 254-pound junior from Late, Hawaii, played in all 13 games in 2017 with 10 starts. Anae was tied for second in the Pac-12 in forced fumbles (3) and fourth in fumbles recovered (2).
Lastly, Utah senior Chase Hansen was named as one of 42 preseason candidates for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which honors college football’s defensive best in character and performance. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound former safety transitioned full-time to linebacker in the spring where he’s expected to start at the rover position this fall.
Hansen, a former all-state quarterback from Lone Peak High, has played in 30 games in his career, 22 of which are starts.