Two key Wisconsin Badger football stars are among the preseason leaders for a pair of major college football awards.
Senior running back Montee Ball was named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, while junior linebacker Chris Borland is among the candidates for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
Ball was one of 65 players named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the outstanding collegiate player of the year. He returns for his senior season seeking to join former Badger Ron Dayne, who claimed the trophy in 1999, as a winner of the Maxwell Award.
Ball is the top returning rusher in the nation with 3,310 career rushing yards. He needs 17 total touchdowns and 18 rushing touchdowns to tie the NCAA career records in each category.
Ball tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record with 39 touchdowns last season and led the nation in rushing with 1,923 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
Borland returns to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, presented annually to college football’s outstanding defensive player of the year, for the second-straight year after.
Borland finished second in the Big Ten with 143 tackles, trailing only teammate Mike Taylor, en route to consensus first team All-Big Ten honors last season. The Ohio native ranked third in the Big Ten and tied for 12th nationally with 19.0 tackles for loss, the most by any middle linebacker. His total was also the highest for a linebacker in UW history.
Borland led the way for a UW defense that ranked No. 15 in total defense and No. 13 in scoring defense nationally last season.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Oct. 29, and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled Nov. 19.