With the 2011 season just a few month away, watch lists for national awards are being announced and the Big Ten appears prominently on these lists. Seventeen Big Ten student-athletes were named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player, and the Bednarik Award, earned by the country's top defensive standout.
Big Ten players appearing on the watch list for the Maxwell Award are Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, Iowa running back Marcus Coker, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, the Michigan State duo of running back Edwin Baker and quarterback Kirk Cousins, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa and the Wisconsin trio of running backs Montee Ball and James White and quarterback Russell Wilson. Big Ten student-athletes have claimed the Maxwell Award on 14 occasions, most recently when Penn State running back Larry Johnson was honored in 2002.
Big Ten standouts appearing on the watch list for the Bednarik Award are Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater, Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, the Nebraska trio of defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and Northwestern defensive end Vince Browne. Big Ten players have earned the Bednarik Award seven times since the award was created in 1995, including two-time winners Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995-96) and Paul Posluszny of Penn State (2005-06). Nittany Lions linebacker Dan Connor was the Big Ten's most recent honoree in 2007.