As expected, Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki are finalists for several national awards.
Barkley is one of three candidates for the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award — given to the nation’s top player and best running back, respectively. And Gesicki is one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, which goes to college football’s finest tight end.
Barkley is joined by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Stanford running back Bryce Love as Maxwell candidates.
The Maxwell Award finalist list normally indicates who will be invited to the ceremony for the Heisman Trophy, which is given out by a different organization. Last year, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers were Maxwell finalists; they were welcomed to New York and finished first, third and fifth, respectively, in the 2016 Heisman vote.
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As for the Doak Walker Award, Barkley will vie with Love and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Love is second nationally in rushing with 1,723 yards, while Taylor is third with 1,657. Barkley has only 1,057 — but has 19 total touchdowns, more than Love’s 16 or Taylor’s 12.
Barkley is the first Penn State player to be a finalist for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards since Larry Johnson took home both in 2002. Johnson is the program’s lone Doak Walker Award winner; Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis were finalists in 1994 and 1997, respectively.
Meanwhile, Gesicki is Penn State’s first finalist for the Mackey Award, which began in 2000. He’s joined by Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews and Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli.
Gesicki has 46 receptions, 466 yards and seven touchdowns (tied for most on the team). Andrews has more catches (47) and yards (787), but fewer touchdowns (five). Fumagalli has the fewest in all three categories among the finalists with 36 grabs, 460 yards and three scores.
The winners for these and many other awards will be announced on Dec. 7 at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Award Show in Atlanta.