The college football award “watch list” barrage has officially begun.
And two Nittany Lions — Zach Zwinak and Deion Barnes — have been named to preseason lists for two of the biggest accolades.
Penn State is tied for the national lead among all universities with seven Maxwell winners. The Lions’ four Bednarik winners is tops nationally.
Zwinak produced the 22nd 1,000-yard rushing season in school history last fall, despite starting only the final four games. He gave the Lions a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth-straight season.
After gaining only 96 yards in four non-conference games, Zwinak gained 904 yards in eight Big Ten contests for an average of 113 yards per game, the fifth-best mark in the league.
Barnes was selected as the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also was a consensus first-team Freshman All-American. He tied for third in the conference with three forced fumbles and tied for fifth in sacks (6.0) while adding 10.0 tackles for loss.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Oct. 29, and the three finalists for each will be unveiled Nov. 18. The winner will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12.