TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Five members of the Florida State football team were selected to the 2017 Bednarik and Maxwell Award watch lists, which were named by the Maxwell Football Club on Monday. The Seminoles produced a strong showing with four represented on the Bednarik list, tying Ohio State with the most players to watch in the nation.
Redshirt sophomore defensive back Derwin James was named to both lists. In addition, redshirt senior linebacker Matthew Thomas, senior defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and junior defensive back Tarvarus McFadden were included on the Bednarik Award watch list, while redshirt sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois joined James on the Maxwell Award watch list.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell's contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official. James and Francois will look to be the first Noles to capture the honor since Charlie Ward in 1993.
James was selected as the top player in college football by Sports Illustrated in 2017 and is expected to make a big return to the gridiron after missing most of 2016 due to injury.
In 2015, the versatile James appeared in all 13 games and registered 91 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries as a rookie. The Haines City, Fla., native earned All-ACC Third Team honors and was named a Freshman All-American by Sporting News, USA Today, and CampusInsider.com. He led the team in tackles five times in 2015, including a career-high 14 against Houston in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
Francois earns his first career nod to a national award list after winning the ACC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. He led all freshman signal callers with 3,350 yards passing, which also was the fifth-best performance in FSU history. He threw 20 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
A total of 11 players from the ACC were represented on the list, as FSU was the lone school with multiple selections.
The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67. Florida State will be looking for its first Bednarik winner in 2017, however former standout Jalen Ramsey was a semifinalist in 2015.
McFadden, who is ranked No. 19 according to SI, burst into the national spotlight as the Jack Tatum Award winner, nabbing eight interceptions which tied for the most in the country in addition to ranking second in school history along with Monk Bonasorte (1979) and Curt Campbell (1951).
McFadden took home First-Team All-America honors from the FWAA and Phil Steele after earning All-ACC First Team accolades from the media and coaches. He finished 2016 with 20 tackles, 3.0 TFL, six pass breakups and 14 passes defended.
Nnadi captured First-Team All-ACC honors from the coaches and Third-Team accolades by the media behind 49 tackles, 10.5 TFL, six sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The Virginia Beach, Va., native was the anchor in FSU’s run defense that allowed only 128.0 rush yards per game.
Thomas earns a spot on his first major watch list after leading the Noles with 77 tackles in 2016 in his first full season as a starter. Additionally, the Miami, Fla., native made 50 solo stop, 11.0 TFLs, two pass breakups and four quarterback hurries. Following his career performance at the 2016 Orange Bowl (15 tackles, 3.5 TFLs), he was selected to ESPN’s All-Bowl Team.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced Oct. 30, 2017, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled Nov. 20, 2017. The winners of the 2017 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football
Awards Show held on Dec. 7, 2017.
The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 9, 2018.