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Wisconsin football: preseason awards watch list roundup part II

With more of the defensive award watch lists being announced, Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton join in on the fun.

Michigan v Wisconsin
Nick Herbig will be separating the ball from opponents all season.
Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Once the preseason award watch lists start coming out, you know college football and crisp, fall air are just around the corner. Per usual, the Wisconsin Badgers have a handful of players representing the team, most notably running back Braelon Allen on offense and OLB Nick Herbig and NT Keeanu Benton on defense.

Allen, who is on all of the other offensive award watch lists a running back should be on, is also on the Walter Camp Player of the Year award’s radar. A Big Ten RB (Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State) won the award last year and there are eight total Big Ten players on the watch list ahead of the 2022 season.

Besides Allen, Penn State QB Sean Clifford, Michigan RB Blake Corum, Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson, QB C.J. Stround and WR Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell and Michigan State QB Payton Thorne round out the Big Ten’s representatives.

Wisconsin has one Walter Camp Award winner in their history, RB Ron Dayne who took home the hardware in 1999.

You KNOW the Big Ten is going to have a bunch of players on the Ray Guy Award, given out to the nation’s best punter, watch list. Wisconsin’s Andy Vujnovich made the cut, as did Adam Korsak of Rutgers, Brad Robbins of Michigan, Brian Buschini of Nebraska, Bryce Baringer of MSU and Tory Taylor of Iowa are also tabbed so be among the best field position switchers in the country.

UW hasn’t won this award since 2000, the inaugural year it was given out, when Kevin Stemke booted his way into college football history.

Moving on to the big fellas on the line, Benton and C Joe Tippmann were both named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, given annually to the best lineman, offensive or defensive, in the country. Wisconsin is one of 16 teams to have two players on the preseason list, while Baylor, Clemson and Georgia each have three players. As a conference, the Big Ten has 11 players (from eight different schools) on the list. Only the SEC has more.

Speaking of Benton, he and Herbig are both on the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the best defensive player in America, Watch List for 2022. Four Big Ten schools, and 20 overall, have multiple players on the list, with Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State joining the Badgers.

There are 25 linebackers on the watch list, 18 safeties, 17 defensive ends, 13 cornerbacks and 12 tackles.

There is no use getting upset over snubs on preseason watch lists...but, Herbig didn’t make the Butkus Award (best LB in the country) Watch List and I am quite honestly baffled. He can always be added on later in the season, but it seems like an oversight as he is on the watch list for best overall defensive player.

The Big Ten doesn’t do official preseason all-conference teams, instead opting to name five players from each division that receive “preseason honors.” The Badgers took two of the five West Division slots with Allen and Herbig.

Iowa LB Jack Campbell, Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski and Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell also made the list while on the East Division side of things, Michigan RB Blake Corum, MSU WR Jayden Reed and OSU’s trio of offensive standouts were the top-five there. OSU QB C.J. Stroud was the only unanimous selection.