The award lists for the various national positional awards are coming out and even though there is little national attention being generated for our Boilers, there is some individual attention being given out. A Purdue player has won a national award four times, all since 2000:
2000 Maxwell Award (Nation's Outstanding Player) - Drew Brees
2000 John Mackey Award (Nation's Best Tight End) - Tim Stratton
2001 Ray Guy Award (Nation's Best Punter) - Travis Dorsch
2003 Woody Hayes Award (National Scholar-Athlete) - John Standeford
It would likely be a major surprise if Purdue had a major national award-winner this season, but the following players have either been named to a preseason watch list or likely will be.
Paul Hornung Award (Most Versatile Player) - Akeem Hunt, RB (Jr.) - Hunt gets on this watch list because he has been extremely successful both as a running back, in catching passes out of the backfield, and as a kick returner. He is projected to be Purdue's top back this coming season and with the return of Raheem Mostert from a knee injury that slowed him his kick returns will likely be down. Last season Hunt lead Purdue in all-purpose yards with 335 rushing, 204 receiving, and 867 on kick returns. He also scored at least one touchdown all three ways.
West Virginia's Tavon Austin won the award last season, but of note is that Dri Archer of Kent State was a finalist under Darrell Hazell. This will be the fourth season for the award.
John Mackey Award (Best Tight End) - Gabe Holmes, TE (Sr.) - Purdue had the inaugural John Mackey award winner during the 2000 season when Tim Stratton had 58 catches for 605 yards and two scores. Surprisingly, he did not go pro and came back to severely reduced numbers the next season.
Holmes was named to the list this morning as he enters his senior season hoping to finally fulfill his promise. Holmes had 25 catches for 158 yards and two scores last season, put up an 11-133-1 in 2011, and had one catch for 14 yards as a freshman. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert won the award last season with 50 catches for 685 yards and four scores.
Burlsworth Trophy (Top Former Walk-on) - Landon Feichter, S (Jr.) - This is where we begin the speculation part of the program, but these are merely educated guesses as to who could be nominated. Just two years ago Feichter was a relative unknown. He only ended up on the Purdue football team because Danny Hope was mistaken in thinking he was related to two former players. Instead, he earned his way to the field as a walk-on and is now the starting safety after leading Purdue in tackles last season and the Big Ten in interceptions.
This Award was started in 2010 and Matt McGloin of Penn State won it last season. It is named after former Arkansas player Brandon Burlsworth who went from walk-on to All-American and was killed just after being drafted by the Colts in 1999.
Dave Rimington Trophy (Top Center) - Robert Kugler, C (So.) - Kulger drew rave reviews last season, winning the starting job very early on. He is one of Purdue's very promising young linemen and could get an early look at this award.
Jim Thorpe Award (Best Defensive Back) - Ricardo Allen, CB (Sr.) - With one more pick-six Allen will join a list of four other players tied for the all-time FBS-level record for interceptions returned for a touchdown. That likely means he at least gets named to this watch list. For the record, the four that currently have five pick-sixes are Darrent Williams (Oklahoma State), Deltha O'Neal (California), Ken Thomas (San Jose State), and Jackie Walker (Tennessee).
Allen already holds not just the Purdue record, but the Big Ten record with four.
Ray Guy Award (Best Punter) Cody Webster, P (Sr.) - Webster was solid last season at 42.3 yards per kick and 29 of 70 punts dropped inside the 20. He also was a threat on fakes with two in the bowl game. He should be among the nation's best in 2013. UDPATE: Webster is indeed on the preseason watch list now.