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Wisconsin football: Jack Sanborn and Graham Mertz make watch lists

Two of the Badgers key players made prestigious watch lists this week.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - Wake Forest v Wisconsin Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Watch list season is back in full effect.

On Monday, Duke’s Mayo Bowl MVP Jack Sanborn was included on the Bednarik Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the top defensive player in college football and has been won by a Big Ten linebacker frequently since its inception in 1995.

Sanborn is technically entering his senior season with the Wisconsin Badgers and to date has amassed 139 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles for his career. A two-year starter, Sanborn will once again anchor the Badgers defense from his inside linebacker position and is considered one of the top linebackers in the conference.

While there is a long time before any games are actually played, and the award is announced after the season, it is a great honor for Sanborn to be included for consideration at this point.

On Tuesday, quarterback Graham Mertz was included on the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List as well. The sophomore signal-caller had an up and down season last year as a first-year starter, but his recruiting pedigree and perceived talent level have many excited about what he could do this season.

The Davey O’Brien Award is annually given to the top quarterback in college football, and Mertz will need to put together a big year to end up a finalist come season end. In 2020, Mertz played in seven games and finished with a 61% completion percentage, 1,238 passing yards, and nine touchdowns compared to five interceptions.

Wisconsin has never had a quarterback go on to win the award in program history.