Junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg and junior running back Akeel Lynch were named to the Davey O'Brien Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists, respectively.
The O'Brien Award is given to the nation's top quarterback, while the Walker Award is presented to the nation's top running back. Hackenberg was previously named to the Maxwell Award watch list for the College Football MVP.
The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation's best college quarterback and is the oldest and most prestigious national quarterback award. The Davey O'Brien Award honors candidates who exemplify Davey O'Brien's enduring character while exhibiting teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership in both academics and athletics. Todd Blackledge (1982) and Kerry Collins (1994) are the Nittany Lions that have claimed the Davey O'Brien Award.
The Doak Walker Award, which is sponsored by the SMU Athletic Forum, is presented annually to the nation's top college running back. Larry Johnson is Penn State's only Doak Walker Award winner, claiming the honor in 2002. Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis were finalists for the award in 1994 and 1997, respectively.
Entering the season poised to become the top passer in Penn State history, Hackenberg capped his sophomore season by breaking or tying nine PSU single game bowl records. He has stated all 25 career games under center and enters the season ranked No. 3 in career passing yards (5,932), attempts (876) and completions (501), and is No. 4 in career total offense (5,770). He is one of just eight Nittany Lions to amass over 5,000 passing yards and is the only Penn State signal caller to break the 400-yard mark in a game, throwing for a school-record 454 yards in a victory over UCF at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin. Ireland. In 2014, Hackenberg led the Big Ten with 20.7 completions per game, ranking 23rd nationally, and finished second in the conference and 39th nationally with 2,977 passing yards.
A breakout sophomore season for Lynch was capped by a 75-yard effort, which included a 35-yard burst midway through the fourth quarter of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which set up the game tying score vs. Boston College. He ended the season with 678 yards on 147 carries with four touchdowns – all career-high totals – and made 10 catches out of the backfield. He appeared in all 12 games last season, making his first two career starts. He boasted a pair of 100-yard rushing games in 2014, including a career-best 137 yards and one touchdown at Illinois.
The O'Brien and Walker Awards will be presented live on December 10, 2015, on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show to be broadcast 7-9 p.m. on ESPN.
The Nittany Lions now have seven players on 10 different preseason watch lists: Kyle Carter (Mackey Award - Nation's Top Tight End), Christian Hackenberg (Maxwell Award - College Football MVP, Davey O'Brien – Nation's Top Quarterback), DaeSean Hamilton (Maxwell Award - College Football MVP, Biletnikoff Award – Nation's Top Wide Receiver), Jordan Lucas (Nagurski Trophy - Defensive Player of the Year), Akeel Lynch (Doak Walker Awards – Nation's Top Running Back), Angelo Mangiro (Rimmington Trophy – Nation's Top Center) and Anthony Zettel (Bednarik Award – National Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski Trophy - Defensive Player of the Year, Outland Trophy - Nation's Top Interior Lineman, Lombardi Award – Nation's Top Lineman or Linebacker).