Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III both appear on the 2014 Bednarik Award preseason watch list, released Monday.
Fowler is making an appearance on the watch list for the second straight year, having been added to the 2013 version in October. Hargreaves is on the list for the first time, and is one of just eight sophomores in the country on the list.
Fowler had 50 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2013, while frequently facing double teams in the wake of Dominique Easley's season-ending injury. Hargreaves was a major contributor in Florida's secondary from the Gators' season opener as a freshman in 2013, stepping up as a ballhawk (three interceptions) and a shutdown corner on the other side of the field from touted upperclassmen Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson.
Florida is one of many schools — including Baylor, Virginia, and Washington — to have multiple players on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, handed out annually to college football's best defensive player. "All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, FBS head coaches and selected national media" are eligible to vote on the award, which will be bestowed for the 20th time in 2014.
No Gator has ever won the Bednarik, though both Jevon Kearse (in 1998) and Brandon Spikes (in 2009) have been among the three 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.