Brennan Armstrong, Malik Willis named to Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List
UVA’s Brennan Armstrong and Liberty’s Malik Willis are among the 80 college football players named to the preseason Maxwell Award Watch List.
The Maxwell Award, powered by Mammoth Tech, is named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell and has been awarded to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Nov. 1, while the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 22.
The winner of the 2021 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 9.
Armstrong, a rising redshirt junior, started nine games at quarterback for the Cavaliers in 2020, throwing for 2,117 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushing for 684 yards and five additional scores.
As a first-time starter last season, Armstrong tied for the FBS lead with the most single-season games (6) with 200+ passing yards and 45+ rushing yards. He ranked third in the ACC and No. 18 in the nation with 296.6 yards of total offense per game.
Pro Football Focus listed him as an honorable mention All-ACC selection.
Willis, also a first-time starter last season at Liberty, finished 2020 as the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country, piling up 944 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, while also throwing for 2,260 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Willis helped Liberty to a season of “firsts” in 2020, including the team’s first-ever national ranking, first win over an ACC opponent, the best start in school history (8-0 to start 2020), first-ever win over a top-25 FBS program and back-to-back bowl game wins.
Liberty defeated a pair of ACC foes in Syracuse and in-state opponent Virginia Tech. The two wins made Liberty the first non-Power 5 team to post a pair of wins over ACC schools in the same season since Houston in 2015.
The Flames finished the season with a 10-1 record, tying the program’s record for wins in a season (Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 10-2 record).
Liberty finished the campaign ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the Amway Coaches Poll, the highest year-ending FBS rankings in school history.
Liberty capped off the 2020 season with a 37-34 overtime win over No. 11 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl.
Story by Chris Graham