From The Tribune staff reports
Watchlist season keeps rolling on, and Friday brought preseason recognition for three former Tribune-area standouts.
Nico Collins, Bo Nix and Zac Thomas have each been named to the 2020 Maxwell Award watch list. The honor is given annually to the best all-around player in college football by a panel of coaches and media. It was presented for the first time in 1937.
Previous winners include Joe Burrow (LSU, 2019), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama, 2018), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma, 2017) and Lamar Jackson (Louisville, 2016).
For Collins, a rising senior receiver at Michigan and former state champion at Clay-Chalkville, this is his second hit on a major preseason watch list. The 2017 Clay-Chalkville grad was recently named to the Biletnikoff watch list, which recognizes the top pass catcher in college football.
Big things are expected from Nix in his sophomore season at Auburn. The two-time state champion and former Mr. Football Award winner from Pinson Valley has been mentioned on both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien (nation’s best quarterback) preseason watch lists.
Nix tossed for 2,542 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Tigers last season, earning him the honor of Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year.
Thomas played his high school ball at Hewitt-Trussville, landing all-state status in 2014 and 2015. He now enters his third season as Appalachian State’s starting quarterback. The right-hander recently joined Nix on the Davey O’Brien preseason watch List.
Thomas has scored 67 touchdowns for the Mountaineers to go with 5,779 total yards.
The local trio is joined by 87 others on the preseason Maxwell watch list, including Najee Harris (Alabama), DeVonta Smith (Alabama), Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Seth Williams (Auburn).