Anyone who expends a great deal of energy worrying about preseason watch lists needs to eat their own face off. They don't mean much, because a player's exclusion from a list does not mean he can't win that award; and also, because all preseason lists/polls/teams/etc. are empty-headed attempts to infuse meaning into all the banal preseason college football chatter.
Yes, I'm that cynical. But I'm also smart enough to realize that, if nothing else, these watch lists provide us with a sampling of the best players in the country at their particular position (according to someone), and it's July, and the Blog Beast is starving and has threatened to dismember me if I don't feed it something, no matter how little nourishment it provides.
Today began the breathless unveiling of these preseason watch lists, so we can all again try to remember the difference between the Lombardi and Outland awards. Two watch lists were released today, the Maxwell Award (top player) and the Bednarik Award (top defensive player). Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks was on the 66-man Bednarik list.
So let's have some harmless fun and ponder who else from MSU might appear on a watch list.
• Mackey Award (tight end): Perhaps sophomore Malcolm Johnson can work his way onto this list, but I don't expect he'll appear on it initially.
• Rimington Trophy (center): Perhaps ... no, never mind.
• Lou Groza Award (kicker): Moving on.
• Ray Guy Award (punter): Junior Baker Swedenburg was very solid last year, but his numbers probably aren't eye-popping enough to put him in the mix.
• Bronko Nagurski (defensive player): I'd guess we'll see Banks on this list as well, since it's essentially the same award as the Bednarik.
• Outland Trophy (interior lineman): I'd think senior Josh Boyd would be on this list. I also think he's underrated due to playing in Fletcher Cox's shadow. Offensive guard Gabe Jackson could be on it, too.
• Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Banks has a great chance at becoming a finalist for this award. I wonder if Corey Broomfield will make the list. Nickoe Whitley ... maybe.
• Butkus Award (linebacker): Wouldn't be surprised if senior Cam Lawrence showed up here, but I would be surprised if he got beyond the watch list stage (or maybe I'm underselling the guy). Junior Deontae Skinner, in my opinion, is a better linebacker.
• Lombardi Award (lineman or linebacker): Again, you have to consider Boyd and Jackson. And maybe juco transfer Denico Autry can work his way into the conversation, if he's as good as advertised. This award is odd because it touts itself as an award for offensive and defensive linemen, but a linebacker won it last year. So maybe Lawrence is on here, too.
• Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): MSU has a deep, experienced group of receivers, but nobody worthy of being on this list.
• Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): I know Tyler Russell won't be on the watch list this year. Next year?
• Doak Walker Award (running back): Nope.
• Walter Camp Award (most outstanding player): Banks could be on here, I suppose, but he wasn't on the Maxwell list.
All of the above simply confirms what we already know about Banks: He's the best player on MSU's team. He's a legit All-America candidate and could very well be a first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft. Beyond that, like I said, these lists don't tell us a whole lot. But it's July, and SEC Media Days is still eight days away, so have at it.