STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State’s senior backfield duo of quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins were named to the watch list for the 77th Maxwell Award, and sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney was included on the watch list for the 19th Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Monday. The Maxwell Award has been given annually to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937, while the Bednarik Award goes to the College Defensive Player of the Year.
The Bulldogs are one of 13 teams nationally (one of four SEC squads) with at least two players on the Maxwell list. Having been the first player in school history to appear on the list last year, Russell is now the first player at State to make the watch list in consecutive seasons. The senior signal caller broke 11 single-season school records as a junior, completing 231 passes for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. Russell currently stands as the school’s all-time leader in passing efficiency (136.38) and is only one passing touchdown away from the tying the school record for passing touchdowns (38), held by Derrick Taite from 1993-96.
A preseason All-SEC pick by Athlon Sports, the Birmingham News and Phil Steele, Perkins finished second in the SEC last season in all-purpose yards per game (125.8) and became the ninth player in MSU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season (1,024). The Doak Walker Award watch list member from a year ago was also one of only two running backs in the country (Adam Muema, San Diego State) to rush for a touchdown in each of his first seven games last fall. Last week, the 5-10, 195-pound ball carrier was also named to the Hornung Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s most versatile college football player.
One of just three underclassmen to make the Bednarik Award watch list, McKinney made the list after a freshman All-America season which saw the Tunica, Miss., native tie for second in the FBS in tackles by a freshman. Named a 2013 preseason All-SEC linebacker by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports, McKinney finished sixth in the SEC last year in tackles per game. This past month, the 6-5, 235-pounder was named the No. 8 “Craziest Athlete in College Football” by CBSSports.com.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced Oct. 29, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled Nov. 25th. The winners of the 2013 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 12th. The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 7, 2014.
Russell and McKinney, along with junior defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls, will represent the Maroon and White next week at 2013 SEC Media Days. The trio and the rest of their teammates begin their 2013 season on August 31 in Houston, Texas, at Reliant Stadium against Oklahoma State. The Texas Kickoff Classic is set for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised live nationally of ABC and ESPN2. For more information on the Maroon and White, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateFB and like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateFB.