Michigan Wolverines Football | Michigan Players On Preseason Award Watch Lists
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Nico Collins Lands On His Second Preseason Award Watch List

A list of the Michigan Wolverines football players who have landed on preseason award watch lists, updated with each new addition below.

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Michigan Wolverines football cornerback Ambry Thomas
Michigan Wolverines football's Ambry Thomas received preseason honors on Monday. (AP Images)
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Nico Collins, Maxwell Award — July 24

Senior wideout Nico Collins was named to the preseason Maxwell Award watch list on July 24, which is given annually to the best overall college football player in the nation. This is the second watch list the 6-4, 222-pounder has landed on, with the Biletnikoff (presented to the game's top wideout) being the other.

Standing as one of the oldest (has been presented every year since 1937) and most prestigious postseason accolades a college student-athlete can receive, the Maxwell Award has only been presented to a Michigan player on two occasions — Tom Harmon in 1940 and Desmond Howard in his Heisman Trophy-winning season of 1991.

The most recent Big Ten player to take home the honor was Penn State running back Larry Johnson in 2002.

Collins hauled in 37 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but saw his production increase immensely late in the year.

After being targeted an average of just 4.7 times through his first seven contests, the Birmingham, Ala., native saw that total rise to 6.6 during Michigan’s final five games, while also seeing his receiving average climb to 71 yards per game during that span (only averaged 53.4 yards per game through his first seven clashes).

Ball security has also been a strength, with the wideout having dropped just four passes over the last two seasons.

The winner of the 2020 Maxwell Award will be announced on Dec. 10.

Adam Shibley, Wuerffel Award — July 23

Michigan redshirt junior linebacker Adam Shibley was named to the Wuerffel Award watch list on July 23 — not for athletic achievements, but instead for what he has done off the field.

The accolade is given every year to the college football player who "best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement."

Shibley came to U-M as a walk-on and has one special teams tackle in 12 appearances under his belt.

He has been very active off the field, however (hence his inclusion on the watch list), participating in and helping lead numerous coalitions and events.

Giles Jackson, Paul Hornung Award — July 23

Michigan sophomore receiver/kick returner Giles Jackson was one of 50 players named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list on Thursday, which is given annually to the most versatile player in college football.

Jackson doubled as both a wideout and a kick returner as a freshman last season, hauling in 142 receiving yards and a score while averaging 25.9 yards on 24 kick return attempts.

He took a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in Michigan's 38-7 win at Maryland on Nov. 2, and also rushed for 69 yards and a score on the season.

With the early departure of Donovan Peoples-Jones to the NFL and Tarik Black's transfer to Texas, Jackson's role as a pass catcher is expected to increase significantly in 2020.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has made a living off of versatile and multi-dimensional athletes, having already coached two Hornung Award winners in the past — fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic at Stanford in 2010, and linebacker/safety/punt returner Jabrill Peppers at Michigan in 2016.

The winner of this year's award will be announced on Dec. 11.

Michigan Wolverines football wideout Giles Jackson
Michigan Wolverines football wideout Giles Jackson caught one touchdown pass last year, while also scoring one on a rush and one on a kick return. (AP Images)

Jalen Mayfield, Outland Trophy — July 21

Michigan redshirt sophomore right tackle Jalen Mayfield was named to the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, presented annually to the most outstanding interior lineman.

Mayfield started all 13 games at right tackle for the Wolverines at in 2019, his redshirt freshman season. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition for his stellar performances.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., native blocked for a U-M rushing attack that averaged more than 150 yards on the ground last season, and protected quarterback Shea Patterson, who threw for 3,061 yards — the second-highest single-season total in program history.

No Michigan player in history has took home the Outland Trophy at season's end.

Michigan Wolverines football's Jalen Mayfield earned preseason honors.
Michigan Wolverines football's Jalen Mayfield earned preseason honors. (USA Today Sports Images)

Kwity Paye, Bronko Nagurski Trophy — July 21

Michigan senior defensive end Kwity Paye was selected as one of 98 standout defenders across college football to be named to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is handed out annually to the top defensive player in the sport.

Paye, a 6-4, 277-pounder, is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree (second team in 2019; honorable mention in 2018). Last season, he contributed 50 tackles with 12.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, three hurries, one fumble recovery. His 12.5 tackles for loss led the Wolverines in that category.

Paye was also listed on the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, which recognizes the top defender in college football, as well.

Former Michigan cornerback and 1997 Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson is the only Wolverine to have won the Nagurski Trophy since it began being awarded in 1993.

Michigan Wolverines football's Kwity Paye received significant preseason honors.
Michigan Wolverines football's Kwity Paye received significant preseason honors. (AP Images)

Ambry Thomas, Jim Thorpe Award — July 20

Michigan senior cornerback Ambry Thomas landed on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list on Monday afternoon, which is given annually to the nation's best defensive back.

Thomas was outstanding in his first season as a starter in 2019, helping anchor a Michigan secondary that finished 10th in the country in passing yards allowed per game.

He also racked up 38 tackles, broke up seven passes and reeled in three interceptions as a junior, taking home third-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches as a result.

Thomas is a member of the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list as well, which is presented every year to the game's top defensive player.

Only one other Wolverine has ever won the Jim Thorpe Award — Charles Woodson in his Heisman Trophy season of 1997.

Cam McGrone, Butkus Award — July 20

Michigan redshirt sophomore linebacker Cam McGrone was named to the preseason watch list for the Butkus award, presented each year to the nation's top linebacker.

The Indiianapolis, Ind., native started the final 10 games of the 2019 season, replacing the injured Josh Ross in the lineup. McGrone fared well, notching 66 tackles, 9.5 for loss, five quarterback hurries, four sacks, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention from the conference's coaches and media.

McGrone is expected to start at Michigan's "MIKE" linebacker spot, on the interior of the linebacking corps, next to Ross, who is projected to start at the "WILL" position in 2020.

The only Wolverine in history to have taken home the Butkus Award was Erick Anderson in 1991.

Michigan Wolverines football's Cam McGrone is on the Butkus Award watch list.
Michigan Wolverines football's Cam McGrone is on the Butkus Award watch list. (AP Images)

Nick Eubanks, John Mackey Award — July 17

Michigan fifth-year senior tight end Nick Eubanks is one of 36 nationally to land on the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, which is handed out annually to the most outstanding tight end in college football.

The Plantation, Fla., native appeared in all 13 games with 10 starts at tight end in 2019, corralling 25 catches for 234 yards and four touchdowns on the season. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition by the conference's coaches and media.

At 6-5, 256 pounds, Eubanks is expected to lead a Maize and Blue tight end room that includes redshirt sophomore Luke Schoonmaker, sophomore Erick All and true freshman Matt Hibner.

The only Michigan player to have won the Mackey Award in the past is when Jake Butt took home the hardware in 2016 (the award began being handed out in 2000).

Michigan Wolverines football's Nick Eubanks is on the Mackey watch list.
Michigan Wolverines football's Nick Eubanks is on the Mackey watch list. (AP Images)

Nico Collins, Biletnikoff Award — July 16

Michigan senior receiver Nico Collins landed on the Biletnikoff Award watch list July 16, which is given each year to the game's top pass catcher (regardless of position).

His 37 receptions and 729 yards each checked in second on U-M's roster in 2019 (behind only Ronnie Bell's 48 catches and 758 yards), while his seven touchdown grabs led the club.

At 6-4, 222 pounds, Collins proved to have a knack for pulling down jump balls and making acrobatic catches downfield, with his 19.7 yards per reception standing as the second best mark in the Big Ten.

The senior was one of eight players from the Big Ten to be named to the watch list.

The three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 23, with the winner then being revealed at the Home Depot College Football Awards event on Dec. 10.

Michigan Wolverines football's Nico Collins is on the Biletnikoff preseason watch list.
Michigan Wolverines football's Nico Collins is on the Biletnikoff preseason watch list.

Ambry Thomas and Kwity Paye, Chuck Bednarik Award — July 13

Senior defensive end Kwity Paye and senior cornerback Ambry Thomas were named to the Chuck Bednarik Award preseason watch list on July 13, which is presented annually to the top defensive player in the nation.

Thomas, a 6-0, 182-pounder, was tabbed as third-team All-Big Ten in 2019 and named U-M's Defensive Skill Player of the Year, after making 38 tackles, 3.0 for loss, seven pass breakups, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries in 2019. He was a Midseason All-American selection by Pro Football Focus College (flex defense) last season.

Paye, a 6-4, 277-pounder, is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree (second team in 2019; honorable mention in 2018). Last season, he contributed 50 tackles with 12.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, three hurries, one fumble recovery. His 12.5 tackles for loss led the Wolverines in that category.

The only U-M player to have won the award is former cornerback and Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, when he took home the hardware for his outstanding 1997 season.

The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995 and is named in honor of Chuck Bednarik, a former standout at the University of Pennsylvania and with the Philadelphia Eagles. Bednarik is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67.

Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced Nov. 3, while the three finalists for the Bednarik Award will be revealed Nov. 23. The winner of the 2020 Bednarik Awards will be announced on Dec. 10. The formal presentations of these awards will be given out at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 12, 2021.

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