Alabama senior tight end O.J. Howard and sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley have been named to the 2016 Maxwell Award watch list announced today by the Maxwell Football Club.
Howard and Ridley are among 90 players from around the country named to the preseason list. Alabama student-athletes have won the award two of the last three seasons. Record-setting running back Derrick Henry was the 2015 winner, while quarterback AJ McCarron was the first student-athlete in program history to bring home the award, winning it in 2013.
Howard begins his senior season as one of the most dynamic tight end options in college football, presenting a mismatch in the passing game. He broke out in the final contest of the 2015 season, earning Offensive MVP honors against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. In the title game, he hauled in five catches for a career-high and national championship game high 208 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers. All five of his catches converted first downs and went for 15-plus yards with a career-long 63-yard reception in the fourth quarter. His total receiving yards against the Tigers were an Alabama bowl record by any receiver. Howard wrapped up his junior season with 38 catches for 602 yards and a team-high 15.8 yards per catch average. Always a big play threat, 24 of his catches converted first downs for the Tide with nine going for 20 yards or more.
A freshman All-American in 2015, Ridley returns to anchor a talented Crimson Tide receiver corps. Ridley set Alabama freshman records with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards in 2015, eclipsing the previous mark of 1,000 held by Amari Cooper (2012). His 89 receptions were also an SEC freshman record and the second-most in FBS history by a true freshman. He was selected to the Sporting News and SEC All-Freshman teams, and was chosen to the All-SEC Second Team by the Associated Press last season. Seventeen of his catches went for 15-plus yards, including five of his seven scores, which came on plays of 30 yards or more. Ridley had a team-leading 44 receptions for a first down or score, and the dynamic wideout recorded five or more catches in nine of his 11 starts and 11 games overall.
The Maxwell Award has been presented annually since 1937 by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia to recognize the top player in college football. The award is named in honor of former college player, official and sports columnist Robert Maxwell. The 2016 winner will be announced at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.