Aside from the Heisman Trophy, The Maxwell Award is college football’s most prestigious, individual honor. Presented as “The Other Award” in 1987, legends like Tim Tebow (2007, 2008), Cam Newton (2010), Andrew Luck (2011), AJ McCarron (2013) 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 20 semifinalists for the 2019 Maxwell Award. They range 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.
One of the most notable of the bunch is Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Derrick Brown. In a list dominated by offensive players — only 2 of the 20 are defenders — seeing Auburn’s star senior get recognition here is pretty cool.
Brown’s stardom shouldn’t come as a surprise, even though few interior lineman get recognized these days anyways. Brown was named MaxPreps‘ National Player of the Year in high school, appeared in 39 games through his first three collegiate seasons, and continues to dominate in 2019.
Through Auburn’s first eight games, Brown racked up 30 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. In addition, he’s batted down three passes, forced two fumbles and recovered two more for Auburn’s 14th-ranked scoring defense (17.9 points allowed per game.)
While Brown might not win the Maxwell Award dominated — as you probably expected — by touchdown-tossing quarterbacks, moving past the watch list and being in this elite company as college player of the year is nothing to scoff at.
Here is the complete list of 20 semifinalists, in alphabetical order by their school:
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, Oklahoma
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
In addition to the Maxwell Award, the Maxwell Football Club sponsors The 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).
Come December, this list will be trimmed to just three finalists, all of whom will be honored at the nationally-televised event from Disney World in Florida.