WEST POINT, N.Y. - As the start of practice for the 2012 season approaches, four Army football players have been named to the preseason watch lists for national awards. Junior Raymond Maples is a candidate for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented to the nation's top running back, while sophomore Ryan Powis is up for the Rimington Trophy, an honor given annually to the top center in the country. Senior Trent Steelman earned a place on the Davey O'Brien Award watch list as one of the nation's top quarterbacks, while senior defensive end Zach Watts is among the preseason candidates for the Lott IMPACT Trophy honoring the nation's top defensive player with an emphasis on off-the-field characteristics.
Maples led the Black Knights, the country's top rushing team in 2011, with 1,066 yards on the ground. He not only posted the ninth-highest rushing total in Academy history, but also set an Army standard with a 7.3 yards per carry average, the best among backs with at least 100 carries in a season.
The semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award will be named on November 9, and the finalists will be selected on Nov. 19. The recipient of the 2012 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 6.
One of the key reasons for Army's rushing success last season, starting center Ryan Powis is one of eight sophomores on the Rimington Trophy watch list. Powis started eight games as a freshman, helping Army to an Academy record 4,158 yards. The Black Knights led the nation with 346.5 yards per contest.
The winner will be honored at Rimington Trophy Presentation banquet at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 12, 2013.
Steelman returns for his fourth season as Army's starting signal caller. The only player in Black Knights' history to rush for 2,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards during their career, Steelman enters his senior season ranked fifth on Army's career total offense ledger. He needs just 242 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns to break the Academy career marks for yards and touchdowns by a quarterback.
The three finalists will be named on Monday, Nov. 19. The 2012 Davey O'Brien Winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 6. The 36th Annual Davey O'Brien Awards Dinner will be held Feb. 18, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. The lone defender among Army's preseason award candidates, Watts was a first-team Academic All-America selection in 2011, posting 26 tackles, including 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was one of three players to post 3.0 quarterback sacks last season.
The IMPACT award recognizes college football's Defensive Player of the Year who best exemplifies Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. Voting for the Lott IMPACT Trophy will take place throughout the season with the winner announced at the annual black-tie awards banquet Dec. 9 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.
The Black Knights begin preseason practice on Aug. 9 and open the season Sept. 8 at San Diego State. The Black Knights make their home debut on Sept. 15 versus Northern Illinois.