With college football starting up in just over a month, the major awards for the top players in the country have began recognizing their watch lists. There is a number of individuals for each award to begin with. As the season progresses, the number of candidates decrease until a winner is chosen. This year, seven Badgers have made the watch list for a number of awards. In this article, we will look at who the Badgers representatives are.
Nakia Watson- Doak Walker Award
Watson enters the season as the likely starting running back after serving as the back up last season to Jonathan Taylor. Taylor also happens to be the 2018 and 2019 winner of the Doak Walker Award. With former Wisconsin running backs Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon wining the award in 2012 and 2104 respectively, this is an award all too familiar with Badger fans. Watson showed flashes of potential in his limited snaps last year and has the skills to be potentially the next great Badgers running back.
Jack Sanborn- Butkus Award and Bednarik Award
The Butkus Award is the best linebacker in the nation. The Bednarik Award is the best overall defensive player in the county. For instance, Sanborn is seen by draft experts as someone who can be drafted in the 2021 NFL draft. None of these recognition’s should come as surprise because Sanborn is one of the best returning linebackers in the Big Ten. Sanborn is in great position to have a solid year leading a young linebacker unit in 2020.
Jack Coan- Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award
Coan is being recognized for the O’Brien (Top QB in the country) and the Maxwell Awards (college football player of the year). Coan enters his senior season as the clear favorite to be under center, barring injury or poor play. This will be the second year as the starting quarterback for Coan. Coan is looking to build off a solid junior season. Last season, he threw 18 touchdowns to only five interceptions with the Badgers.
Jake Ferguson- John Mackey Award
The John Mackey Award is the most outstanding tight end in the country. This should come as no surprise as Ferguson is one of the best returning tight ends in the Big Ten. Ferguson could declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Because Jack Coan can use Ferguson as a security blanket, Ferguson should be poised to have a great season in 2020. Ferguson should receive a lot of snaps and attention because the depth behind Ferguson could be a problem.
Eric Burrell- Bronko Nagurski Award and Jim Thorpe Award
Eric Burrell is one of the best returning safeties in the Big Ten and the nation. Burrell is recognized for The Jim Thorpe (best defensive back in country) and Bronko Nagursk (best defensive player in the nation) Award watch lists. Burrell should be a leader with Jack Sanborn on the defensive side this year. As a result, don’t be surprised if Burrell is a finalist or even wins the Jim Thorpe Award in 2020 because of the skills and experience he brings to an experienced position group. Burrell should have a great season with the Badgers.
Cole Van Lanen- Outland Trophy
Cole Van Lanen is the Badgers best returning offenseive lineman. Gabe Carimi was the last Wisconsin lineman to win the award in 2010. Joe Thomas also won the Outland Trophy for Wisconsin in 2006. Van Lanen returns after having the opportunity to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. As a result, there is no doubt Van Lanen will be the leader on the offensive line and Jack Coan’s blind side tackle in 2020. Expect Van Lanen to have a great season and keep Jack Coan off the turf.
Madison Cone- Wuerffel Trophy
According to The Wuerffel Trophy website: “The Wuerffel Trophy is presented to the FBS player who best combines exemplary community service with leadership achievement on and off the field”. Cone is leader on the field, off the field, and in the classroom. For instance, Cone is an Academic All Big Ten recipient in 2018 and 2019. He helped lead the movement for student athletes at Wisconsin to have a black “W” crest on all athlete’s uniforms in support of minority students on campus. Cone represents the Badgers on the Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition. He is a model student-athlete. The senior safety is considered for the award because of the positive impact he makes on and off the field. Cone should see reps on the defensive side this year after playing mostly a special teams role in past years.