Everyone recognizes their own unofficial start date to college football season.
For some, it might be the day that the Phil Steele College Football Preview hits newsstands. For others, it might be conference media day, or the first day of fall camp. And for the weirdest and wildest among us, it might be the day that the first major individual player award watch list trickles out.
For the latter folks, that day arrived Monday, with not just one watch list but two. And after one of the most encouraging seasons in decades, Indiana’s program was well represented on both the Maxwell Award and Chuck Bednarik Award preseason honor rolls.
Quarterback Michael Penix and receiver Ty Fryfogle each landed on the list for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the sport’s most outstanding player. Meanwhile, linebacker Micah McFadden and cornerback Tiawan Mullen each received placement on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, which recognizes the game’s top defensive standout.
This is the second time in as many years that Penix has had his name included among Maxwell aspirants, while Fryfogle was bound to receive early consideration for the award after earning the Big Ten’s receiver of the year trophy in 2020. Last fall, Fryfogle also became the first Hoosier since James Hardy in 2007 to collect All-America honors thanks to the folks who vote through the Associated Press. He led IU with 721 yards, 90.1 yards per game, seven scores and 19.5 yards per reception.
Penix started all six games in which he appeared before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in late November, throwing for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. He completed 56.4% of his passes.
McFadden and Mullen each earned All-America status in 2020, headlining a ferocious and opportunistic Hoosier defense. McFadden led the Big Ten with six sacks, while pacing IU with 58 tackles, 44 solo stops and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Mullen, IU’s Defensive Player of the Year, led all Big Ten defensive backs with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. His three interceptions tied for sixth in the league.
We’ll track all of Indiana’s honorees as they’re announced this month.
Maxwell Award: Michael Penix, Ty Fryfogle
Chuck Bednarik: Micah McFadden, Tiawan Mullen
Bobby Dodd: Tom Allen