A list of ASU football players named to preseason award watch lists

Jul 30, 2020, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:21 am
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona State football players are already getting some preseason recognition going into the 2020 college football season.

As is the case every year, awards committees have started releasing watch lists to determine who you should keep an eye on. We’re keeping track of ASU football players who are on those lists.

It started July 14 when quarterback Jayden Daniels was named to the Davey O’Brien Award watch list, but there likely will be plenty more. On July 16, wide receiver Frank Darby had his name listed. Linebacker Merlin Robertson joined the preseason watch party on Monday.

Keep track of more to come here:

QB Jayden Daniels: The Manning Award (top quarterback with bowl performances included), Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback) and Maxwell Award (most outstanding player)

Daniels is on the preseason watch list for The Manning Award, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Maxwell Award. Daniels was one of 30 players on the watch list for The Manning.

Daniels started 12 of ASU’s 13 games last season as a freshman.

Last season, the California native won the starting job in preseason practices and went on to pass for 2,748 yards with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Only 12 times in school history has a true freshman quarterback passed for more than 300 yards in a game, and Daniels did so five times. He was the first true freshman quarterback in school history to start the first game of the season, and he finished the year a Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honorable mention.

USC’s Kedon Slovis and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson were the only other Pac-12 quarterbacks on the watch list.

The Manning Award is the only college QB award that includes postseason performances.

TE/HB/QB Ethan Long: Wuerffel Trophy (community service)

Last year, Long was the first true freshman in team history to be named a team captain. That kind of leadership makes it clearer why he’d be on a watch list for players to win an award that “exists to honor college football players who serve others, celebrate their positive impact on society, and inspire greater service in the world.”

Long, a native of Oregon, played in 10 games last year.

P Michael Turk: Ray Guy Award (best punter)

Turk’s 46 yards per punt was the best in the Pac-12 and 11th-most in the country, making him a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2019. A whopping 54.2% of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard-line, good for second-best in the nation, and his 63 yards per punt average in the game against Kent State broke an NCAA record.

K Cristian Zendejas: Lou Groza Award (best kicker)

In his first season as ASU’s place kicker last year, Zendejas stood out as a redshirt sophomore. The Chandler, Ariz. native was 19-for-23 in field goal attempts for a percentage of 82.6%.

OL Dhonovan West: Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)

In 2019, there were fewer than 20 true freshmen in the FBS who started at offensive line in their team’s first game. West was one of them. He finished the year as a Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention.

There are 85 players total on the watch list, including 11 in the Pac-12. Last year’s winner was Oregon’s Penei Sewell.

LB Merlin Robertson: Butkus Award (best linebacker)

Robertson is poised to be one of the main anchors on the defense yet again in his third season with the program.

Robertson compiled 74 tackles, two sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and two passes defensed in 2019. He set career marks his freshman year in tackles (77) and sacks (5).

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound LB joins 50 others at the position on the watch list, signifying former Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus’ No. 51 jersey.

Robertson has some familiar faces in the Pac-12 to compete against for the honor, with California’s Kuony Deng, Colorado’s Nate Landman, Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Oregon’s Isaac Slade-Matautia, Washington’s Joe Tryon and Washington State’s Jahad Woods also in the mix.

WR Frank Darby: Biletnikoff Award (best receiver)

Darby is one of the most experienced members of the Sun Devils wide receivers corps after N’Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk left for the NFL each of the last two seasons. An influx of recruits for the 2020 class makes Darby an old soul in the bunch, but could also be reason to believe that he’ll have a lion’s share of the targets in offensive coordinator Zak Hill’s offense.

After a 2019 season that saw Darby record 597 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, the redshirt senior was on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which recognizes the best receiver regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back).

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A list of ASU football players named to preseason award watch lists