Award watch lists are a ritual of preseason college football. About a week ago, we saw two Tar Heels make these lists in Michael Carter and Carl Tucker. In days since, a couple other UNC players have been included in some others.
In addition to being the only Tar Heel to make a preseason all-conference team at ACC Kickoff, Anthony Ratliff-Williams was included on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award.
The Hornung Award is a fairly recent addition to the hardware of college football, but it boasts some impressive winners already. It is given to the most versatile player in the country, and was won last year by Saquon Barkley. Other recent winners include Jabril Peppers, Christian McCaffery, and Odell Beckham Jr.
Ratliff-Williams isn’t the most high profile name on the list, especially considering his season last year came for a 3-9 team. However, he definitely deserves the mention. He was UNC’s leading receiver by a lot, was excellent in the kick return game last year, and threw more touchdown passes than last year’s expected starter Brandon Harris. His 2017 would have gone under the radar nationally, but it certainly wasn’t his fault.
The other Tar Heel got added to a watch list for an off the field award, but it’s still a cool honor, and deserves a mention.
Snapper Kyle Murphy was added to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, which awards players for community service and academic performance. According to the Go Heels article linked above, he heads up a student-athlete pen pal program, among other things. That certainly sounds like something noble enough to garner recognition.
These watch lists don’t necessarily lead to performance on the field or high placement in voting at the end of the season. However, it’s still nice to see some Tar Heels get some recognition ahead of the season.