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UCF Knights Featured on Nine Preseason Watch Lists So Far

Last summer, seven Knights were named to 12 preseason watch lists, including head coach Josh Heupel. 

Derek Warden

Eight UCF Knights have been named to nine preseason watch lists so far.

Senior safety Richie Grant has been placed on four watch lists, for the second year in a row. Other Knights who were recognized include QB Dillon Gabriel, WR Tre Nixon, DB Aaron Robinson, OL Cole Schneider, RB/WR Otis Anderson and OL Samuel Jackson.

No running backs were named to the Doak Walker Award watch list this year, however. Greg McCrae was placed on the list last year. Athletic departments can still nominate candidates through October.

In other UCF football news, Anderson earned a spot on the 2020 Athlon Sports All-America Team, Schneider, Anderson and Robinson were named to Phil Steele’s 2020 Preseason All-American Teams and 17 players were named to Athlon’s Preseason All-Conference Team.

Here’s a running list of UCF football players named to preseason watch lists:

DB Richie Grant

Grant was named to four watch lists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Jim Thorpe Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.

Grant is one of 42 candidates and one of 15 defensive backs for the Lott IMPACT Trophy Award. It is the only major college football award where the athlete’s character is considered. Grant is the only AAC watch list honoree.

The IMPACT award — integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity — is awarded to the defensive player of the year. The award show will be held on Dec. 17 in Newport Beach, California.

Grant was also named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, presented to the defensive player of the year. Semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 3 and the three finalists on Nov. 23. The winner will be announced on Dec. 10 as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

Grant, along with Robinson, is on the watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award. The list of 49 defensive backs will be narrowed down to 10-15 semifinalists in early November and then three finalists will be announced the week of Thanksgiving. The winner will also be announced during the College Football Awards Show.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list has Grant’s name on it for the second year in a row. As players are removed and added to the watch list throughout the course of the season, the Football Writers Association of America will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week every Tuesday. The FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will then announce five finalists, a 26-man All-America Team and will vote on a winner.

Grant is a two-time first-team all-conference honoree in the AAC, totaling 187 tackles, seven interceptions and 11 pass break-ups in the last two seasons, according to UCF Athletics.

DB Aaron Robinson

Robinson and Grant were both named to the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy preseason watch lists.

Robinson was a second-team all-conference selection last season after registering 54 total tackles to go with 5.5 tackles for loss. He also totaled three interceptions, a forced fumble and 10 pass break-ups, according to UCF Athletics.

QB Dillon Gabriel

Gabriel is one of 29 quarterbacks named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch list, based on player performance and season expectations.

McKenzie Milton was a semifinalist for the quarterback award in 2017 and 2018.

The final midseason watch list will be announced Oct. 20 and the final watch list will be revealed on Nov. 10. Three finalists will be named on Nov. 24 and the winner will be announced during the College Football Awards Show in December.

Gabriel is No. 4 overall on UCF’s single-season passing list with 3,653 passing yards last season. He was also ranked No. 4 nationally in passing yards per completion, according to UCF Athletics.

WR Tre Nixon

Nixon was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which recognizes an outstanding FBS receiver. The winner will be announced on March 6 at FSU.

The redshirt senior finished the 2019 season with 49 catches for 830 yards and seven touchdowns, according to UCF Athletics.

OL Cole Schneider

Schneider was named to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list. The winner is chosen from three finalists from the FWAA All-America Team. Committee members vote on the winner, which will be announced in early December.

The redshirt junior is a two-time all-conference honoree started all 13 games last season at offensive guard.

RB/WR Otis Anderson

Anderson was one out of 44 players named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list. This award is given to the most versatile player in college football. The winner and his family will be announced in March 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.

As of last season, Anderson is UCF’s best all-purpose threat and leading rusher with 726 yards on a team-high 113 attempts, according to UCF Athletics. He’s also the top punt returner for the Knights with 21 for 277 yards.

OL Samuel Jackson

Jackson was one of 114 college football players named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. The trophy for community service is given to players who serve others, celebrate their positive impact on society and inspire greater service in the world. The winner will be announced on Dec. 8.

The redshirt junior helped UCF break the single-season rushing record as a sophomore in 2018, according to UCF Athletics.

Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for the Black & Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.