(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)
The University of Central Florida announced that four players have made preseason-awards watch lists for the 2017 season.
Redshirt senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin, senior tight end Jordan Akins, senior defensive tackle Jamiyus Pittman and redshirt junior kicker Matthew Wright have all been named to an award watch list. Griffin has been named to two watch lists.
For starters, Griffin was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists, honors given to the best defensive player in the country awarded by the Maxwell Football Club and Football Writers Association of America, respectively. The reigning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year led the AAC in sacks last season with 11.5 and recorded 20 tackles for loss on 92 total tackles. He also deflected seven passes, snatched an interception and forced two fumbles.
Pittman has been named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, an award given to the best interior lineman. Pittman was named to All-AAC second team in 2016 after recording 28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
On the offensive side, Akins was named to the John Mackey Award watch list, an award given to the best tight end in college football. Akins played in all 13 games last season, starting seven, in his first season as tight end after playing wide receiver in the previous two seasons. Akins was third on the team in catches and yards with 23 and 347, respectively, and added two touchdowns on 15.1 yards per reception.
Lastly, for special teams, Wright has been named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List, an award given to the nation’s top kicker. Wright made 77 percent of his field goals last season, making nine that were 40 yards or longer, and 95 percent of his extra-point attempts.
Fall camp starts in about two weeks for a UCF team that had a six-win improvement last season under head coach Scott Frost’s first season.