Manning Award Tabs Two Mountain West Passers for Annual Watch List

July 23, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has included a pair of Mountain West quarterbacks on its annual Watch List, it announced on Monday. The Watch List is being announced by conference in conjunction with each league's media days. The MW representatives are Derek Carr (Fresno State) and Brett Smith (Wyoming).

The overall Watch List will include 25 of the top quarterbacks in the nation heading into the 2012 season. The winner will be announced after the bowls in January and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans.

The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates' bowl performances in its balloting.

Carr had a tremendous junior season in 2011, throwing for 3,544 yards (tops in the WAC) and 26 touchdowns while completing 62.6 percent of his passes. The 2012 campaign is expected to be even better as he has a full season of experience and a new head coach who is converting to the spread offense. His top yardage games were a 391-yard performance against New Mexico State and a 371-yard effort against Idaho. Fresno State opens its first season as a member of the Mountain West on Sept. 1 when it hosts Weber State from the FCS ranks.

Smith is the lone sophomore to crack this year's Manning Award Watch List. As a true freshman in 2011, Smith completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,622 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also led the Cowboys with 710 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground as the team won eight games and made just its third bowl appearance in 18 years. Wyoming jumps right into the 2012 season with a road game at Texas.

The preseason Watch List recognizes top quarterbacks in the nation based on previous collegiate performance, however, every quarterback in the nation remains eligible for the honor. Additional quarterbacks may be added to the Watch List after the start of the season. The list of 10 finalists will be released on Monday, Nov. 26. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

The Manning Award will be recognizing its ninth winner this year. USC's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick. Boston College's Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor - he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 2010 winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the draft. Auburn's Cameron Newton earned the award in 2011, prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. This past season's honoree was Robert Griffin, III, from Baylor, who was also a top NFL draft pick (No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins).