The 2016 Davey O’Brien Award preseason watch list has a decidedly 2015 feel to it.
Included in the group of 30 watch listers is Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, the 2015 winner of the award handed out annually to the nation’s top quarterback. Watson, a junior, is attempting to become only the second player ever, joining Oklahoma’s Jason White, to win the O’Brien twice.
Additionally, a finalist for the 2015 award, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, is included, as are three other semifinalists from a year ago — Luke Falk (Washington State), Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Seth Russell (Baylor) and Greg Ward Jr. (Houston). Finally, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, a semifinalist for the 2014 award, is back as a quarterback to watch.
With five nominees each, the Big 12 and Big Ten lead all conferences, followed by the Pac-12 and AAC with four apiece.
Almost half of the watch listers are seniors, with juniors contributing another 11. That leaves five sophomores among the 30 — Rosen, Washington’s Jake Browning, BYU’s Tanner Mangum, Boise State’s Brett Rypien and Middle Tennessee State’s Brent Stockstill.
Below is the complete 2016 Davey O’Brien Award preseason watch list:
Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Nebraska, Sr., Cibolo, Texas)
J.T. Barrett (Ohio State, Jr., Wichita Falls, Texas)
C.J. Beathard (Iowa, Sr., Franklin, Tenn.)
Jake Browning (Washington, So., Granite Bay, Calif.)
Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee, Sr., Alpharetta, Ga.)
Dane Evans (Tulsa, Sr., Sanger, Texas)
Luke Falk (Washington State, Jr., Logan, Utah)
Quinton Flowers (USF, Jr., Miami, Fla.)
Skyler Howard (West Virginia, Sr., Fort Worth, Texas)
Brad Kaaya (Miami, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
Chad Kelly (Ole Miss, Sr., Buffalo, N.Y.)
DeShone Kizer* (Notre Dame, Jr., Toledo, Ohio)
Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State, Jr., Calhoun, Ga.)
Mitch Leidner (Minnesota, Sr., Lakeville, Minn.)
Wes Lunt (Illinois, Sr., Rochester, Ill.)
Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech, Jr., Whitehouse, Texas)
Tanner Mangum* (BYU, So., Eagle, Idaho)
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma, Jr., Austin, Texas)
Nick Mullens (Southern Miss, Sr., Hoover, Ala.)
Josh Rosen (UCLA, So., Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State, Jr., Rock Hill, S.C.)
Cooper Rush (Central Michigan, Sr., Charlotte, Mich.)
Seth Russell (Baylor, Sr., Garland, Texas)
Brett Rypien (Boise State, So., Spokane, Wash.)
Anu Solomon (Arizona, Jr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
Brent Stockstill (Middle Tennessee, So., Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Zach Terrell (Western Michigan, Sr., Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Phillip Walker (Temple, Sr., Elizabeth, N.J.)
Greg Ward Jr. (Houston, Sr., Tyler, Texas)
Deshaun Watson (Clemson, Jr., Gainesville, Ga.)