Aside from the Heisman Trophy, The Maxwell Award is college football’s most prestigious, individual honor. Current NFL stars like Cam Newton (2010), Derrick Henry (2015) and Baker Mayfield (2017) were named Maxwell Award winners during their careers. It’s safe to say that the “Other Award” took on a life of its own as the headlining honor at ESPN’s annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
Just beyond the mid-way point of the 2019 season, the club announced the semifinalists for the 2019 Maxwell Award. They ranged from last season’s Maxwell Award winner Tua Tagovailoa to Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, both of whom are considered can’t-miss prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. From Oregon to Clemson and everywhere in between, these players make up an incredible batch of talent.
Touchdown-tossing quarterbacks and workhorse running backs always dominate the first Maxwell Award watch list, and that elite company as college player of the year was trimmed to just 20 semifinalists.
Maxwell Award Semifinalists
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Charlie Brewer, QB, Baylor
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Shane Buechele, QB, SMU
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Zach Moss, RB, Utah
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Past Maxwell Award Winners
The Maxwell Award’s history dates back to 1937 when Yale’s Clint Frank won the first-ever honor. Since then, the greatest players in the country have claimed the hardware. Past Maxwell Award winners include Penn’s Chuck Bednarik (1948), Navy’s Roger Staubach (1963), Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1975), Georgia’s Herschel Walker (1982), Tennessee’s Peyton Manning (1997), Florida’s Tim Tebow (2007 & 2008), Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (2012) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (2016).
On November 25, the Maxwell Football Club announced three finalists for the 2019 award to join that elite company as collegiate player of the year.
Among them is Heisman Trophy front-runner Joe Burrow, whose LSU Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country. Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts transferred in the offseason, and he’s having his greatest season ever as a collegiate player. The lone defender is Ohio State’s Chase Young, who could be the third player to reach 20 sacks in a season since the stat became official.
Maxwell Award Finalists
Joe Burrow, Senior, LSU
Stats: 4,715 passing yards, 48 TD passes, 6 INTs, 77.9 completion percentage (13 games)
Jalen Hurts, Senior, Oklahoma
Stats: 4,889 total yards, 32 passing TDs, 18 rushing TDs, 7 INTs (13 games)
Chase Young, Junior, Ohio State
Stats: 44 total tackles, 21.0 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles (11 games)
In addition to the Maxwell Award, the Maxwell Football Club sponsors The Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), The Davey O’Brien Award (nation’s best quarterback), The Outland Trophy (outstanding interior lineman), The Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back), and The Doak Walker Award (NCAA’s best running back).
The nationally-televised Home Depot College Football Awards Show aired on December 12 from Disney World in Florida.
On a night where the LSU Tigers took home multiple awards — Ja’Marr Chase won the Biletnikoff Award, Grant Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award, and Ed Orgeron took home Coach of the Year, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Maxwell Award.
Since 2014, four of the last five Maxwell winners also took home the Heisman Trophy.
Joe Burrow Wins Maxwell Award
This post was originally published October 30, 2019. It’s been updated several times, including with the announcement of the 2019 Maxwell Award winner.