Mountain West Lands Stars on Maxwell, Bednarik, Hornung Award Watch Lists

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The conference is deeper than many realize, and its stars are getting a great deal of respect as the watch lists continue to roll out.

Three high-profile college football award committees released their watch lists this morning, and Mountain West fans have plenty to be excited about.

The Maxwell Award, which like the Heisman is presented to the top college football player in the nation, has by far the lengthiest list of the three but also features the most players from Mountain West teams.  Boise State's Jay Ajayi, UNLV's Devante Davis, Nevada's Cody Fajardo and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton are four of the conference's top offensive weapons, and a standout season should get them as far as the semifinalist cut.

Meanwhile, the Bednarik Award honors the athletes on the defensive side of the ball, but of the 76 players on the initial list there are just two from the MWC: Utah State's Kyler Fackrell and Fresno State's Derron Smith.  This may be something of a surprise -- Brock Hekking and Eddie Yarbrough certainly wouldn't look out of place on this watch list -- but Smith and Fackrell are poised to be the front-runners for the Mountain West's preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Finally, the Hornung Award might be fairly new, but it was inspired by the versatility of the man whose name adorns the trophy.  This list of 44 has some unexpected but worthy names:  Hawaii's Scott Harding, New Mexico's Carlos Wiggins and Boise State's Shane Williams-Rhodes.  The latter two have made waves as return men, but Harding might be college football's only wide receiver/punter and is worthy of a nod for that.

There will be more watch lists released in the weeks to come, but what do you think of how these three shape up?  Are there any glaring omissions?

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