King, Beathard make watch lists

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Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard watches from Iowa’s bench during the Big Ten Championship against Michigan State in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 16-13. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)

By Blake Dowson

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It’s the absolute dead zone of the college football season, so, naturally big-time award watch lists are beginning to make their rounds.

Preseason watch lists aren’t much more than fun talking points while practice fields lay dormant, but it is in fact fun to talk about and try to predict the unpredictable.

The Maxwell Football Club’s list is one of those that were released, and two Hawkeyes — quarterback C.J. Beathard and cornerback Desmond King — are among the names announced. Beathard is up for the Maxwell Award, while King is among the names for the Bednarik Trophy.

The Maxwell is given to the most outstanding player, and the Bednarik is given to the defensive player of the year.

Both Beathard and King were recognized quite a bit last year, but this season could take that to an entirely new level. King won the Jim Thorpe and Tatum/Bell Awards last year, given to the national and Big Ten defensive backs, respectively.

King had an incredible junior season, ranking second in the Football Bowl Subdivision in interceptions with 8, while also breaking up 13 other passes and tallying 72 tackles. The cornerback gave quite a bit of thought to leaving Iowa for the NFL after the season but eventually decided to return.

He would have likely been a first-round pick, which also increases his profile as he enters his final season at Iowa. There will be expectations, and he’ll have to find a way to tune them out.

Beathard, meanwhile, was named second-team All-Big Ten last year. Despite a groin injury, he managed to put up 2,809 yards in the air and another 237 on the ground. Beathard totaled 23 touchdowns (17 passing, 6 rushing) and had just 5 interceptions.

With the expectation Beathard is now fully healthy, it will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Greg Davis can maximize his talents. Iowa’s season rides on how well Beathard plays, and with another good season, his profile will skyrocket.

Of the two, King has a legitimate shot at taking home the Bednarik Award if he makes another progression like he did last year. However, the likelihood of King getting much thrown his way during the course of the year seems slim, and he will no doubt have fewer opportunities to make plays on defense this season.

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