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UNC Football: A watchlist of the preseason award watchlists

A couple Tar Heels have gotten some accolades ahead of the new season.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - North Carolina v South Carolina Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

We are now in late July and truly starting to close in on college football season. Almost exactly a month from now, we will be eagerly anticipating kickoff in North Carolina’s season opener against Florida A&M.

However being as close as we are, the ephemera surrounding the college football season is in full force. Plenty of media outlets are doing their season previews, and the conference media days, including ACC Kickoff, which was held last week, are going on.

One of the other things that always happens around this time of the year is all the various college football awards releasing their watch lists for the new season. The watch lists don’t necessarily mean anything other than “this player might be good this year,” but it’s still a fairly notable thing for a player to make them. Seeing as a bunch have come out already, let’s check out what Tar Heel players have been considered notable contenders for various awards for the upcoming 2022 season.

After an excellent 2021 as UNC’s biggest threat on offense, it’s no shock that wide receiver Josh Downs is getting some hype ahead of 2022. Last year, his 1000+ yard receiving season saw him get named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the best receiver in the country. Not surprisingly, that season has gotten him onto the Biletnikoff watchlist again for this season.

His 2021 also was good enough to get him some early consideration for an even bigger award. Downs was also named to the watchlist for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the best player in all of college football.

In the backfield, senior British Brooks was included on the Doak Walker Award watchlist, for the best running back in college football. Brooks is returning for a fifth season after an impressive stretch to close the season, running for 285 yards at an average of 10.6 per attempt over the final three games of 2021.

On the defensive side of the ball, rising junior defensive back Tony Grimes was among the names on the watchlist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is annually given out for the most outstanding defensive player in college football.

There are other awards set to announce their 2022 watchlists in the coming days and weeks. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for any other Tar Heels who get some publicity ahead of the new season.

EDIT: Just this morning, UNC defensive lineman Myles Murphy was put on the watchlist for the Outland Trophy, for best interior lineman, and the Nagurski Trophy, for best defensive player.