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A Quintet of Broncos Land on Preseason Watchlists

Five Boise State football players earn a shot at national college football awards.

Hawai’i v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Throughout the last week several Broncos have been recognized on national award watchlists. So far, five Boise State football players have been nominated. Let’s take a brief look at the preseason Bronco heroes.

George Holani: Doak Walker Award

The Doak Walker Award honors the top running back in college football. The award has been given out since 1990. Notable winners include Eddie George, Ricky Williams (x2), Ladinian Tomlinson. Reggie Bush, Derrick Henry, and many more recognizable running back legends.

It is no surprise that George Holani made the list of running backs to watch for in the 2020 season. Holani burst onto the scene in 2019, rushing for 1,014 yards with a healthy 5.3 yards per carry average while leading all true freshman running backs in yards. Holani also has a chance to extend the Boise State active record of consecutive years with a 1,000-yard rusher to 12 seasons.

Jalen Walker: Chuck Bednarik Award

The Bednarik Award is given to the best defensive player in all of college football. The award was first given out in 1995 and winners include Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, Ndamukong Su, Tyrann Mathieu, Aaron Donald, and Chase Young.

Jalen Walker had a breakout year in 2019 and cemented himself as the number one cornerback for the Broncos. He routinely shut down the opposing team’s number one receiving option. Expectations are high for Walker coming into the 2020 season, and a brief look at the stats show a big reason for the optimism. Walker led the Broncos with nine pass break-ups but had just one interception. If the ballhawk RS Senior CB gets a few bounces he could enjoy a phenomenal swansong as a Bronco.

Kekaula Kaniho: Lott IMPACT Trophy:

The Lott IMPACT Trophy is awarded to the defensive IMPACT player of the year. The acronym stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity. The trophy was first handed out in 2004. Previous winners include J.J. Watt, Luke Kuechly, Eric Kendricks, and Jabrill Peppers.

Kekaula Kaniho is the perfect representative for the Lott Trophy. His IMPACT to the Broncos is unquestionable. The Senior Nickle/Safety has proved to have a nose for the ball and has showcased the ability to wreak havoc in the backfield. He ended the 2019 season with 11 tackles-for-loss and three sacks to go along with an interception and two forced fumbles. Kaniho has been every bit as important off the field for Boise State, as recognized by the Lott IMPACT Trophy committee.

Hank Bachmeier: Davey O’Brien Award:

The Davey O’Brien Award is presented to the nations top collegiate quarterback. The award was founded in 1977 and became a quarterback-only award in 1981. Winners since 1981 include Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Vince Young, Cam Newton, and Deshaun Watson.

Hank Bachmeier became a rare Freshman starter for the Broncos when he took the field against Florida State in the Broncos 2019 football opener. The young quarterback, just months removed from high school, did not disappoint. Bachmeier finished his first college football game with 407 yards passing and a huge win against a Power Five opponent. While injuries plagued Bachmeier throughout the 2019 season, expectations are sky high in 2020. The talent is undeniable, but if Hank wants to remain in contention for the Davey O’Brien Trophy, he must turn that talent into production early and often once the games begin.

Khalil Shakir: Biletnikoff Award

The Fred Biletnikoff Award is given to the most outstanding receiver in college football. The award was first given out in 1994. Notable Biletnikoff winners are Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, and many other household name receivers.

Khalil Shakir was an obvious choice for the Biletnikoff Award nomination. He was the definition of outstanding for Boise State last season. Shakir finished the season 63 catches for 872 yards and 9 total touchdowns. With John Hightower’s departure, the Junior wide receiver enters the 2020 season as the surefire number one receiver amongst a bevy of talented pass catchers. The reception targets may be too spread out for Shakir to make a serious run at the Biletnikoff Award, but Shakir has definitely earned the “outstanding” moniker.

Those are the Broncos who have shown up on preseason watchlists so far. With so many Boise State football players being recognized, 2020 is shaping up to be an unforgettable season. Who else do you think will or should be nominated for college football awards for the 2020 season?