Turns out “Watch List” season is not quite over for the 2011 Northern Illinois Huskies.
After a July in which four Northern Illinois players earned eight recognitions on preseason awards watch lists, NIU junior safety and return specialist Tommy Davis added his name to that group Monday when he was one of 50 players named to the 2011 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse.
The Paul Hornung Award is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission and football legend Paul Hornung. The 2011 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on 2010 statistics and expectations heading into the 2011 season.
Davis, one of three Mid-American Conference players on the 2011 Hornung Award Watch List, is Northern Illinois’ top returning tackler as he made 73 tackles with 47 solo from his free safety spot a year ago. He co-led the MAC in fumble recoveries with four, intercepted a pass and broke up two in his first season as a defensive starter. Davis made a team-leading 10 tackles with nine solo versus Illinois.
The East St. Louis, Ill. native also earned third-team All-MAC honors as a return specialist after averaging 7.9 yards per punt return and 24.0 yards per kickoff return a year ago. Davis ranks in the Huskies’ top five all-time for career kickoff returns, yards and average and has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the last two seasons. He had a career-long 52-yard punt return versus Ball State a year ago.
There are 20 seniors, 20 juniors and 10 sophomores representing 46 universities on the Paul Hornung Award Watch List. Beginning in late September, college football fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Hornung Award candidate through Facebook and fan voting will factor into the selection of the finalists and winner.
With Davis’ selection to the Hornung Award Watch List, five NIU players have now been named nine times to preseason award watch lists.
Quarterback Chandler Harnish leads the way as he was named to the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year lists. Offensive tackle Trevor Olson was named to the Outland Trophy (best lineman) Watch List and center Scott Wedige is on the Rimington Trophy (top center) listing. Olson, Wedige and defensive end Sean Progar were all named to the Rotary Lombardi Award (top down lineman or linebacker) Watch List.
Davis and his Northern Illinois Huskie teammates are back on the practice field at Huskie Stadium today as the team will don full pads for the first time this preseason. NIU opens the 2011 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 3, as Army visits Huskie Stadium for the first time. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.