Wolverines’ Speight, Spartans’ Scott named to Maxwell Award watch list

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State
Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) runs with the ball as Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Torrence Brown (19) defends during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions won 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason award watch lists for the upcoming 2017 college football season continue to roll out in the month of July. It first started with the Chuck Bednarik Award — given to the best defensive player — which features a pair of Michigan Wolverines on the list.

The Maxwell Award is presented every year to the nation’s top overall player, regardless of position. This year’s watch list for the award features a pair of in-state players, Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and Michigan State running back LJ Scott.

Speight enters his senior season at Michigan as the clear No. 1 at the quarterback position, barring some collapse or surge by one of their younger quarterbacks. Speight in 12 games last season completed just over 61 percent of his passes and racked up 2,538 yards of passing, totaling 17 touchdowns versus eight picks.

Speight earned All-Big Ten third-team honors a season ago and was voted the team’s “most improved player” from the season prior by the Michigan coaching staff.

As for LJ Scott, he enters his junior year at MSU as the leader among a three-headed monster in the backfield for the Spartans. The 6-1, 230-pound Scott totaled just under 1,000 yards rushing and six scores on the ground. That mark is down from the 11 he tallied as a freshman, but the offensive production was down across the board for Michigan State in 2016.

Scott did add pass-catching to his repertoire more last year, catching 10 balls for 147 yards and one score. It could possibly be the final year for Scott in East Lansing if he puts together a strong campaign, after he hinted about foregoing his senior season for the NFL Draft back in March.

Speight and Scott are part of a watch list for the Maxwell Award comprised of more than 80 players, including Louisville junior quarterback Lamar Jackson, who took home the honor a season ago. They are also two of 11 players from Big Ten programs to make the list.

Speight is joined by fellow quarterbacks J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Trace McSorley (Penn State) and Clayton Thorson (Northwestern). Scott’s running back counterparts include Saquon Barkley (Penn State), Justin Jackson (Northwestern), Rodney Smith (Minnesota), Akrum Wadley (Iowa) and former Cass Tech standout Mike Weber (Ohio State).