Liberty QB Malik Willis named to Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list

liberty malik willis
Malik Willis drops back to pass in the Flames’ 45-0 win over UMass. Photo courtesy Liberty Athletics.

Malik Willis has been added to another preseason award watch list with the quarterback being named to the 2021 Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list.

Willis is one of 35 players named to the watch list for the nation’s fourth-oldest individual college football accolade.

This year’s award watch list includes 25 offensive players (13 quarterbacks, eight running backs and four receivers/tight ends) along with 10 from the defensive side of the ball.

In total, 29 schools and 11 conferences (including independents) are represented on the list with Iowa State having four players on the list.

The Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in mid-November.

The 2021 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 130 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced live on ESPN on Thursday, December 9. The winner will then receive his trophy at the Foundation’s 55th annual national awards banquet on January 15, 2022, in New Haven, Conn.

Over the last two weeks, Willis has also been named to the 2021 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the 2021 Maxwell Award watch lists.

Willis finished 2020 as the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country. He led all FBS quarterbacks with 944 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Willis set school records in both statistical categories for a quarterback with his standout totals.

The native of Atlanta, Ga., finished his first season under center for the Flames completing 170-of-265 passing attempts for 2,260 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Willis captured a series of honors during his first season on the field for the Flames in 2020. He was a Phil Steele Postseason All-America (honorable mention team member), Dudley Award winner (top player in Virginia as presented by the Richmond Times-Dispatch), Davey O’Brien Award Quarterback Class of 2020 member, VaSID Offensive Player of the Year and was named to several national honors watch lists (CFPA National Performer of the Year, Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, and the Maxwell Award).

Willis led the Flames in total offense (3,204 yards), passing yards (2,260) and passing touchdowns (20) in 2020, while finished the year No. 7 in the country in rushing touchdowns and No. 16 in rushing yards.

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 thrilling 37-34 overtime win over No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The win marked Liberty’s first-ever victory over a FBS top-25 ranked program.

 


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