The watch list is a college football preseason tradition for the myriad of awards that are handed out in December. It's a great way to get a little press by putting a whole bunch of names out there, allowing every school to trumpet their players' inclusion with a press release. All of a sudden your award name is going out on hundreds of wire stories, where it won't register in the slightest until the end of the season when the actual hardware is handed out. And probably not even then; can anyone off the top of their head say what the Fred Biletnikoff Award is for? Or who won it last season?
This year however, the Senior Bowl has gotten in on the act and demonstrated just how ridiculous this whole thing is. 104 players made the Senior Bowl last season, earning them a trip to Mobile, Alabama to play a North vs. South game that few watch and everyone who hears about it goes, "Really, Alabama? You're still bringing the Civil War into this?" So how big does a "watch list" for such an event have to run? Try 312 players, from 114 teams. Basicaly, if you're a rising senior that someone has heard of before, you're on the list. Duke has put two people on the list. North Carolina manages six, sandwiched on the list between the one representative from New Hampshire and the two from N.C. State. The breakdown, plus the other awards they're being watched for:
- Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard. He was second-team All-ACC and has the most starts of anyone on the team. He's also on the list for the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman).
- Erik Highsmith, Wide Receiver. He had 726 yards receiving last season, second on the team. He's on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award (those of you who said it was for best wide receiver, give yourself a gold star)
- Kevin Reddick, Inside Linebacker. He was second on the team with 71 tackles last season, and is also on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award (best defensive player), Nagurski Trophy (same), Lott Trophy (pretty much the same as well) and the Butkus Award (best linebacker)
- Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle. He had 54 tackles last season, and is also nominated for the Outland Trophy.
- Travis Bond, Offensive Guard. He's the guy typically making holes for Giovani Bernard. Bond isn't on any preseason award watch lists, which means absolutely nothing as they'll still give him a trophy if he excels at the position.
- Devon Ramsay, Fullback. Ramsay has missed 21 of the Heels' last 22 games, beginning with the last nine of the 2010 season for the academic scandal, for which he was eventually cleared on appeal, and then all but the season opener last season after tearing his ACL and MCL. The Senior Bowl evidently saw something they liked though.
For the non-seniors, Giovani Bernard and Bryn Renner are both up for the Maxwell Award (best player), and James Hurst is on the list for the Outland Trophy as an offensive tackle. Also Jheranie Boyd, a senior but not a Senior Bowl senior, is on the Biletnikoff watch list. And let's face it, I've probably missed about seven watch lists. I may even be on a couple, for al I know. The important takeaway here is that UNC has players that the national media are putting on lists. Duely noted.