College Football Awards 2012: Utah, BYU Players In Running For National Recognition

SOUTH BEND IN - NOVEMBER 13: Sealver Siliga #98 and Star Lotulelei #92 of the Utah Utes stop Jonas Gray #25 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on November 13 2010 in South Bend Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) heads the list of Rocky Mountain-area players named to the watch lists for two of college football's premier postseason awards.

Preseason awards watch lists don't arrive with the same fanfare as preseason rankings, but they do give you a good idea of which players to keep an eye on as the college football season kicks into gear. Today brings the watch lists for two of college football's biggest awards: the Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and the Maxwell Award (best player).

The Rocky Mountains aren't as represented as other areas of the country, but the Utah Utes and BYU Cougars did not go without mention. Utah DT Star Lotulelei is tabbed on the Bednarik watch list, and despite the uphill battle he faces on account of playing for the Utes, Lotulelei is considered to be one of the most disruptive forces in college football and may be a top five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. On the offensive side of the ball, Utah running back John White IV got named to the Maxwell list. As a junior in 2011, White IV ran for 1,1519 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Cougars are represented by Maxwell watch list nominee Riley Nelson, who enters the season as BYU's starting quarterback. Nelson didn't take over as BYU's quarterback in 2011 until the fifth game of the season, but he finished the season with 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns to only seven interceptions.

For full lists for both the Bednarik and Maxwell awards, click here.

For more, stick with SB Nation Denver. For more on Utah visit Block U and for more on BYU visit Vanquish the Foe. For more news, notes and analysis from around the country, head over to SB Nation's college football news hub.

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