Gophers TE Williams named to preseason watch list for national trophy
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University of Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams was named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, a national award highlighting the country's top tight end in college football.
Williams joins center Tommy Olson, who was named in May to the watch list for the Rimington trophy, a similar accolade for the nation's best center. They are two of 15 Big Ten athletes represented in the pool of players for both trophies.
Williams averaged 16.7 yards per catch and caught five touchdowns in his redshirt freshman season and is joined with Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman, Penn State's Kyle Carter and Jesse James, as well as Rutgers' Tyler Kroft as Big Ten tight ends on the list. Former winners include Super Bowl champion Dallas Clark (2002), two-time Super Bowl champion Heath Miller (2004), Fred Davis (2007) of the Washington Redskins and Tyler Eifert (2012) of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Olson moved from guard to center last season and started the last four games of 2013 after starter Jon Christenson suffered a season-ending injury. Olson joins nine other Big Ten centers on the Rimington watch list. Former winners include the Gophers' own Greg Eslinger (2005) and Maurkice Pouncey (2009), who just signed a five-year, $44 million deal in Pittsburgh.