Malik Willis named to Manning Award Watch List
Liberty’s Malik Willis has been named to another preseason award watch list as the returning quarterback is one of 32 players named to the Manning Award list.
The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting.
The winner of the Manning Award will again be selected by a voting panel, which includes national media and each of the Mannings, after the bowls.
This year’s Watch List includes players from all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. The ACC leads the way with five selections, while the Big 12 and the Sun Belt have four each. The AAC, Big Ten, MAC, Pac-12 and the SEC each have three selections. Both the senior class and the junior class have 13 quarterbacks on the list while the sophomore class has six.
Over the last several weeks, Willis has also been named to several preseason award watch lists: CFPA National Performer of the Year Award, Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
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.