3 Badgers named to award watch lists

Three Badgers who hope to take the college football world by storm this season are among the preseason leaders for a pair of major national awards. 

Junior RB Corey Clement was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, while junior OLB Vince Biegel and senior S Michael Caputo are among the candidates for the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday.

Clement was one of 80 players named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the outstanding player in college football. He returns for his junior season seeking to join former Badger Ron Dayne, who claimed the Maxwell Award in 1999.

One of 12 Big Ten players named to the Maxwell Award list, Clement is also among 35 running backs who enter the season vying for the award.

The Glassboro, New Jersey, native returns as one of the top running backs after combining with Melvin Gordon to set a single-season FBS record for rushing yards by teammates with 3,536 yards. Clement rushed for 949 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns last season. He has covered 1,496 yards in his first two seasons at UW, averaging 7.0 yards per carry.

Clement is the third Wisconsin running back named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list in the last four years, joining Gordon (2014) and Montee Ball (2012).

Ball was a Maxwell Award semifinalist in 2012 while Gordon was a finalist last season, UW’s first since Ron Dayne won the award in 1999. UW has had a Maxwell semifinalist in each of the last four seasons: Russell Wilson (2011), Ball (2012) and Gordon (2013, 2014)

Biegel and Caputo make their debut on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, presented annually to college football’s outstanding defensive player. The pair of defensive standouts helped UW to rank No. 4 nationally in total defense at 294.1 yards per game and No. 17 in scoring defense at 20.8 points per contest.

Caputo led all Badgers with 106 total tackles in 2014 and recorded 6.0 tackles for loss. Biegel saw action in all 14 games last season and led the Badgers with 16.5 tackles for loss, while ranking second on the team with 7.5 sacks.

Biegel is one of 28 linebackers on the watch list, while Caputo is among 10 safeties who enter the season as challengers for the award. The Badgers are two of 12 Big Ten players named to the list.

The Badgers have had four semifinalists (Erasmus James, O’Brien Schofield, J.J. Watt and Chris Borland) and one finalist (James) for the Bednarik Award since 2004.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Nov. 2, and the three finalists for each award will be announced Nov. 23. The winners will be announced as part of The Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 10. The formal presentations will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 11.

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