Landry Jones, Kenny Stills and Dominique Whaley were named to the Maxwell Award preseason list, given to the nation's top outstanding player, while Demontre Hurst and Tony Jefferson were named to the Bednarik Award list, given to the nation's top defensive player.
With three selections on the Maxwell Award list, OU is one of four programs nationally and the only Big 12 program with at least three selections. Jones joins Clemson's Tajh Boyd and USC's Matt Barkley and Robert Woods as the only 2011 Maxwell Award semifinalists on this year's preseason watch list.
Jones returns for his senior season as the nation's top returning passer with 12,379 career yards and 93 touchdowns. The Artesia, N.M., native enters the season tied with current OU running backs coach Cale Gundy (1990-93) for most career starts by a quarterback with 37 and is just three wins away from tying Steve Davis (1973-75) for the OU career victories record of 32 wins.
Stills enters his third season of collegiate football after hauling in 61 receptions in each of his first two seasons. In his sophomore season, Stills turned his 61 receptions into 849 yards, the 11th-best single-season mark in OU history, and eight touchdowns. Stills is one of 11 receivers on the list and one of just three Big 12 receivers on the list, joining West Virginia's Tavon Austin and Baylor's Terrance Williams.
Whaley was OU's main rusher in the first six games of 2011 before going down with a broken ankle on the first play of the season's seventh game, a 58-17 Oklahoma win at Kansas State. The former walk-on finished the year with 627 yards and nine touchdowns on 113 carries. Whaley eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in three games and also had 15 receptions for 153 yards.
A second-team All-Big 12 selection in 2011, Hurst led OU with 11 pass breakups last season while accumulating 55 tackles with at least five in six separate games. The two-year starter ranks ninth on the OU career chart with 23 career pass breakups.
Jefferson led the 2011 OU team with four interceptions and was third on the squad with 74 tackles. The junior, who has played in a hybrid defensive back role the last two seasons, tied an OU single game record last season with three interceptions against Ball State. Jefferson had nine games with at least five tackles.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 29, and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 19. The winners of the 2011 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on December 6.
The formal presentation of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 1, 2013. The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, evaluating past performance and future potential.
/// SoonerSports PR