Tuscaloosa, Ala. (WIAT)– Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley and junior running back Bo Scarbrough have been named to the 2017 Maxwell Award Watch List announced today by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia.
The four are among 85 players from around the country named to the preseason list. The Crimson Tide’s four selections are the most for any school. Alabama student-athletes have won the award twice in the last four seasons. Record-setting running back Derrick Henry was the 2015 winner, while quarterback AJ McCarron was the first student-athlete in program history to bring home the award, winning it in 2013.
The leader of the Crimson Tide secondary after a pair of standout seasons in his first two years in Tuscaloosa, Fitzpatrick made the move to safety midway through the season in 2016 and will once again direct the Tide secondary in 2017. He has returned four interceptions for touchdowns during his career to set the Alabama all-time mark for pick-sixes. The Old Bridge, N.J., native was a first team All-American by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association and Pro Football Focus in 2016 and earned second-team honors from Walter Camp and The Sporting News. He led the team in interceptions (6) and interception return yards (186) as a sophomore and his 186 return yards ranked near the top nationally while his six picks tied for seventh in the FBS.
Hurts became the first freshman to start at quarterback under Nick Saban when he took control of the Crimson Tide offense in the second game of the season in 2016 and finished 13-1 as the Tide’s starting quarterback. He was selected as a Freshman All-American by USA Today and ESPN and earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year accolades from the conference coaches and the Associated Press. The Houston, Texas, native also garnered SEC Freshman of the Year (coaches) and SEC Newcomer of the Year (Associated Press) accolades. Hurts threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns and completed 62.8 percent of his passes with a 139.1 quarterback rating. He also set school records for touchdown responsibility (36) and quarterback rushing yards (954).
One of the nation’s most explosive wideouts, Ridley had 72 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. Thirty-nine of his receptions went for a first down or a touchdown in 2016. He had 21 explosive receptions of 15 yards or more to lead the Tide last season. As a freshman in 2015, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native set Alabama freshman records for receptions (89) and receiving yards (1,045). Ridley has caught at least five passes in 20 of his 30 career games with the Tide and already ranks in the Alabama career top-10 in receptions (161), touchdown receptions (14) and receiving yards (1,814).
Scarbrough provided a power option in the Crimson Tide backfield as a sophomore. He rushed 109 times for 719 yards and nine rushing scores in 2016 with 42 of his rushes going for a first down or a touchdown. The Northport, Ala., native finished the season with some big performances, rushing 46 times for 364 yards and six touchdowns over his final three contests to average 7.9 yards per carry (SEC Championship, CFP Semifinal and CFP National Championship). Scarbrough earned Offensive MVP honors for his performance in the College Football Playoff Semifinal against Washington, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns against the Huskies.
The Maxwell Award has been presented annually since 1937 by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia to recognize the top player in college football. The award is named in honor of former college player, official and sports columnist Robert Maxwell. The 2017 winner will be announced at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.