The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, continued to announce its annual Watch List on Monday. The Watch List is being announced by conference in conjunction with each league's media days. With the Southeastern Conference Media Days kicking off on Tuesday, five SEC quarterbacks were tabbed for the list: Tyler Bray (Tennessee), James Franklin (Missouri), AJ McCarron (Alabama), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Tyler Wilson (Arkansas).
The overall Watch List will include 25 of the top quarterbacks in the nation heading into the 2012 season. The winner will be announced after the bowls in January and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans.
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.
Bray had an outstanding season in 2011, despite missing significant time with a broken thumb. He completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for almost 2,000 yards, including 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The junior's value to the Volunteers was exhibited as the team went 1-4 without him in the lineup; and 4-3 with him in action. The 2012 season opens on Friday, Aug. 31, when they host North Carolina State.
Franklin is a newcomer to the SEC as he leads Missouri into its first year of action in the league. The junior threw for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 63.3 percent of his passes for the Tigers in 2011 as he twice earned Manning Award Star of the Week recognition. He also rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns in an eight-win season. His first 2012 action will come against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 1. The Tigers make their official SEC debut on Sept. 8 when they host Georgia in Columbia.
McCarron had a huge performance in the Allstate BCS National Championship, earning Offensive MVP honors as he led Alabama to the title in New Orleans. For the year, he tallied 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns with just five touchdowns while completing 66.8 percent of his passes. McCarron opens his junior season, and the Crimson Tide opens its defense of the national title, with a highly-anticipated matchup against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 1.
Murray, a two-time Manning Award Star of the Week, had an exceptional year for Georgia in 2011, throwing for 3,149 yards and an SEC-best 35 touchdowns (also a Georgia record) while connecting on nearly 60 percent of his offerings. He was selected to the All-SEC Second Team by the league's coaches. The junior quarterback will open his 2012 season on Sept. 1 when the Bulldogs host Buffalo.
Wilson was the first-team All-SEC quarterback last season and a finalist for the Manning Award after throwing for an SEC-best 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He was a three-time Manning Award Star of the Week and also led the league in passing efficiency and completing 63.2 percent of his passes. The 2012 Arkansas season kicks off on Sept. 1 against Jacksonville State in Fayetteville.
The preseason Watch List recognizes top quarterbacks in the nation based on previous collegiate performance, however, every quarterback in the nation remains eligible for the honor. Additional quarterbacks may be added to the Watch List after the start of the season. The list of 10 finalists will be released on Monday, Nov. 26. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
The Manning Award will be recognizing its ninth winner this year. USC's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick. Boston College's Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor - he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 2010 winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the draft. Auburn's Cameron Newton earn the award in 2011, prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. This past season's honoree was Robert Griffin, III, from Baylor, who was also a top NFL draft pick (No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins).
2012 Manning Award Watch List (through 7/16, additions to come regularly)
Cmp-Att Pct. Yards TDs INT Eff. Rushing
Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State
304-476 .639 3,588 19 16 133.6 588 yds, 10 TDs
Tyler Bray, Tennessee
147-247 .595 1,983 17 6 144.8 --
James Franklin, Missouri
238-376 .633 2,865 21 11 139.9 981 yds, 15 TDs
Blaine Gautier, UL Lafayette
216-344 .628 2,958 23 6 153.6 486 yds, 3 TDs
AJ McCarron, Alabama
219-328 .668 2,634 16 5 147.3 --
Aaron Murray, Georgia
238-403 .591 3,149 35 14 146.4 --
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
277-438 .632 3,638 24 6 148.4 --