Smith, Austin named to Maxwell watch list
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:07
Two West Virginia University football players were named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list Monday.
Senior quarterback Geno Smith and senior inside receiver Tavon Austin were among the 11 players from the Big 12 Conference to make an appearance on the list. Every year, the Maxwell Award is given by the Maxwell Club to the Nation’s Most Outstanding Player in college football.
Both Smith and Austin are coming off of record-setting junior seasons for West Virginia. Smith threw for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns a season ago, which were both single-season records for West Virginia quarterbacks, while Austin became the first Mountaineer receiver to catch more than 100 passes in a season with 101 receptions for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns.
Austin also led the nation in all-purpose yards as a weapon in the return game.
Oklahoma is the only other team in the Big 12 to place more than one player on the list. Quarterback Landry Jones, running back Dominique Whaley and wide receiver Kenny Stills were all named to the watch list.
Kansas and Iowa State were the only two teams in the conference not to have any players appear on the list.
The SEC was the only conference to have more players on the list, with 13.
Madsen named to Rimington Trophy Watch List
West Virginia center Joe Madsen was named to the 2012 Rimington preseason watch list Monday. The Rimington Trophy is given annually to the nation’s top center.
Madsen was one of four Big 12 centers to be named to the watch list along with Kansas State’s BJ Finney, TCU’s James Fry and Oklahoma’s Ben Habern.
Madsen has racked up the accolades while at West Virginia. In 2009 the Chardon, Ohio, native was named to the Big East all-Freshman Team by ESPN.com and the Sporting News. Then in 2011 ESPN.com and Phil Steele named him a First Team All-Big East center.
Coming into 2012 Madsen anchors a veteran offensive line that has a lot of playing experience in the Big East. If the West Virginia offense is going to have more success than it had last season, center Madsen and the offensive line is the key. In 2011 Madsen led the WVU offensive line with 55 knockdowns, including a career-high seven knockdowns against a viscious Louisiana State defensive line.
Head Coach Dana Holgorsen said, "Joe Madsen is a leader and has done a fantastic job; he’s a great player."
Sometimes lost in the shadow of all the playmakers on this Mountaineer team, Madsen gets overlooked. Three-year starter, Madsen has the most career starts on the WVU roster with 38 total. The next closest on the list is Tavon Austin with 27 starts. Madsen is an image of consistency that this program needs as it transitions to the Big 12.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Madsen said during spring practice, "Ever since I moved to center, (the Rimington Award) has always been a goal of mine."
If West Virginia has the offense it is expected to have, Madsen could have his name surface on finalist lists and may even have a good shot at winning the award.
"It’s not like I strive to do that. I always try to play the best I can every down, so if that happens, that’s what I want," Madsen said.