PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Three Texas Longhorns were named to the preseason watch list for the 2017 Maxwell Award on Monday, announced by the Maxwell Football Club. Quarterback Shane Buechele, running back Chris Warren III and offensive tackle Connor Williams all were nominated for the award, which honors the player of the year in college football. Texas is second nationally with three players on this year's watch list, just behind Alabama's four.
Each of the three will try to add to an impressive list of Longhorn Legends to have previously won the Maxwell Award: Tommy Nobis (1965), Ricky Williams (1998), Vince Young (2005) and Colt McCoy (2009).
Buechele, from Arlington, Texas, is coming off one of the most impressive freshman seasons in school history for a quarterback. He played in and started all 12 games in 2016 as a true freshman, just the second true freshman in school history to start a season opener at the position (joining Bobby Layne, who did it in 1944). He was named Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week on three occasions as he passed for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was the first UT quarterback since McCoy, in 2009, to total at least 2,500 yards passing and 20 touchdowns in a season. Buechele's 2,958 passing yards were the most in school history by a freshman, while his 21 touchdown passes were second-most by a freshman. He finished the season ranked seventh in single-season passing yards in UT history, while his 10 200-yard games were fourth-most in school history in a single season and already are tied for eighth-most in a career.
Warren, a running back from Rockwall, Texas, returns to the field after missing the final eight games of the 2016 season due to injury. He has already compiled impressive numbers in his first two years on campus, despite playing in just 12 total games with four starts. He enters the 2017 season with 836 yards rushing in his career, just 144 shy of becoming the 51st Longhorn in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for a career. As a freshman, Warren played in eight games, starting the last two and rushing for 470 yards total. In the season's second-to-last game, Warren rushed for a UT single-game freshman record with 276 yards and four scores against Texas Tech. Last season, prior to his injury, Warren started two games and rushed for 366 yards and three touchdowns in just over three games. He has already totaled four 100-yard games in his brief UT career.
Williams, a left tackle from Coppell, Texas, continues to garner preseason recognition following standout freshman and sophomore campaigns. He is one of just four offensive linemen to be recognized on the preseason watch list. Williams has played in and started 23 of a possible 24 games through two seasons on the 40 Acres. He was a consensus first-team All-American in 2016, becoming just the fourth sophomore in UT history — along with Hub Bechtol in1944, Russell Erxleben in1976 and Earl Thomas in 2009 — to receive first-team All-America honors. He was named first-team All-Big 12 by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press in 2016 and was also a semifinalist for the prestigious Outland Trophy. As a freshman in 2015, Williams was named honorable mention All-Big 12 and was named a first-team freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, USA Today and ESPN.
The Maxwell Award, which has been awarded annually since 1937, is named for Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell. His contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.