Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III have both been named to the preseason watch list for the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Award, released Thursday.
The Nagurski Award — like the Bednarik Award for which both players are also on a preseason watch list — is given to the nation's best defensive player, but it is awarded by the Football Writers Association of America. Players sometimes sweep both awards: Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald did so in 2013, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o did so in 2012, and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did so in 2009.
Fowler and Hargreaves give Florida two of the Nagurski's 81 (!) preseason watch list players, and Florida is one of four SEC schools to have multiple players on the watch list, joining Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
No Gator has ever won the Nagurski, though both Reggie Nelson (in 2006) and Brandon Spikes (in 2009) have been among the five finalists for it.
College football award watch lists are stupid. They are beholden to confirmation and recency biases, and, while designed to be comprehensive to the point of absurdity, often fail to capture the breadth of talent in the sport.
More than zero college football awards last year went to guys not on preseason watch lists, which is why preseason watch lists are pointless— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) July 7, 2014
None of the watch lists mean anything: The number of players on those lists means that the quality of player on any given list varies from good to extraordinary, with little demarcation possible, and players who currently lack the notoriety to appear on a watch list but demonstrate the skills to contend for an award in the fall will be judged no less competent for not appearing on these list.
And yet, it's the middle of summer, and we're all "starved" for college football content, so these tidbits are "worth" "noting." This note will appear at the bottom of all "Florida Gators on 2014 college football award watch list" posts. Get used to seeing it.