Notre Dame, Illinois, and Northwestern Possess Some of Nation's Top QBs

Never has there been more excitement for college football award watch lists. The twin lockout-induced free agency voids in the NFL and NBA has given us even less to talk about during MLB's slowest (and overall sports' slowest) week for media. Cuz NO ONE cares about the All-Star game and the ratings numbers reflect that.

Let's talk gridiron! As the Davey O'Brien Foundation announced the 2011 Watch List today for its trophy honoring the nation's top QB.

This year's list, which was compiled by a subset of The O'Brien National Selection Committee, features 38 of the nation's top collegiate quarterbacks who were selected based on player performance during the previous year and expectations heading into the 2011 college football season.

In addition to last season's finalists, Andrew Luck (Stanford) and Kellen Moore (Boise State), 2009 O'Brien finalist Case Keenum (Houston) is back in the action. This year's list also includes seven 2010 semifinalists: Matt Barkley (USC), Kirk Cousins (Michigan State Spartans), Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Taylor Martinez (Nebraska Cornhuskers), Denard Robinson (Michigan Wolverines), and Darron Thomas (Oregon)

For the list of the top running backs go here

Appearing on the Watch List is not a requirement for a player to be awarded The O'Brien. Quarterbacks from all 120 NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools are eligible for the award until the field is narrowed to 16 semifinalists on Monday, Oct. 24. The Foundation and the Selection Committee will announce three finalists on Monday, Nov. 21. The 2011 Davey O'Brien winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 8.

2011 Davey O'Brien Watch List

players in bold are from teams we regularly cover on this site

Matt Barkley, USC, Pac-12

Tyler Bray, Tennessee, SEC

Alex Carder, Western Michigan, MAC

Zach Collaros, Cincinnati Bearcats, Big East

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State Spartans, Big Ten

Dayne Crist, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Independent

Austin Davis, Southern Miss, C-USA

Dominique Davis, East Carolina, C-USA

Nick Foles, Arizona, Pac-12

Jeff Godfrey, UCF, C-USA

Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Big 12

Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois, MAC

Jake Heaps, BYU, Independent

Landry Jones, Oklahoma, Big 12

Case Keenum, Houston, C-USA

G.J. Kinne, Tulsa, C-USA

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, MWC

Andrew Luck, Stanford, Pac-12

EJ Manuel, Florida State, ACC

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten

Bryant Moniz, Hawaii, WAC

Kellen Moore, Boise State, MWC

Aaron Murray, Georgia, SEC

Danny O'Brien, Maryland, ACC

Kyle Padron, SMU, C-USA

Dan Persa, Northwestern Wildcats, Big Ten

Chris Relf, Mississippi State, SEC

Sean Renfree, Duke, ACC

Corey Robinson, Troy, Sun Belt

Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines, Big Ten

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois Fighting Illini, Big Ten

Geno Smith, West Virginia, Big East

Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh, Big East

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, Big 12

Darron Thomas, Oregon, Pac-12

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, Big 12

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers, Big Ten

Jordan Wynn, Utah, Pac-12

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington Times.com, NBC Chicago.com and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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