Eight MW Football Players Named to 2016 Preseason Maxwell & Bednarik Watch Lists

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Maxwell Football Club announced its watch lists for the 80th annual Maxwell Award and the 22nd annual Chuck Bednarik Award on Tuesday. Among the players included on the lists are eight Mountain West student-athletes. 

Six players, including one quarterback and five running backs, from MW institutions were tabbed to the Maxwell Award list, which is awarded to the national player of the year. Air Force senior running back Jacobi Owens, Boise State junior running back Jeremy McNichols, Broncos’ sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien, Nevada junior running back James Butler, San Diego State senior tailback Donnel Pumphrey, and Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill all garnered inclusion on the watch list. 

Owens led the Falcons in rushing last season with 1,096 yards on 205 carries for an average of 78.0 yards per game. McNichols, a 2015 Second-Team All-Conference selection, started 12 games a year ago and led the Mountain West in scoring (156 points), touchdowns (26) and rushing touchdowns (20). He ranked tied for second in the nation in the first two categories and tied for sixth in the latter. Rypien is coming off of a debut 2015 season in which he was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and to the All-Conference First Team after leading the league in passing yards (3,353), total offense (3,276 yards), completions (273) and attempts (429). In 2015, Butler earned All-Mountain West Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore, rushing for 1,153 yards and eight touchdowns. Last year, Pumphrey rushed for 1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns on 309 attempts (5.3 avg.), while leading the team with 28 catches for 416 yards and three touchdowns en route to being named a Sports Illustrated Honorable-Mention All-American, the MW Offensive Player of the Year and an All-MW First-Team selection for a second-straight season. Hill finished the 2015 season ranked No. 8 in the nation in average rushing yards per game (135.9), No. 9 in total rushing yards (1,631) and No. 13 in average all-purpose yards per game (146.9). He set the Wyoming single-season rushing record with 1,631 yards and was a Second-Team All-MW honoree. 

Two additional MW student-athletes, San Diego State senior cornerback Damontae Kazee and senior linebacker Calvin Munson, appeared on the Bednarik Award list, which honors the collegiate defensive player of the year. 

Kazee had eight interceptions in 2015 to go along with 75 tackles, seven pass breakups, 5.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He was named a second-team USA Today All-American, a honorable-mention Sports Illustrated All-American, the MW Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-MW pick. Munson led SDSU in multiple categories last season, including tackles (98), tackles for loss (15), sacks (9.5) and fumble recoveries (2, tied), while adding two interceptions (both returned for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and seven quarterback hurries. He was a 2015 Second-Team All-Conference selection.