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17 Jul 2019 06:38 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez scans the field. (Image Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Davey O’Brien Foundation released their preseason watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, a list of 30 quarterbacks which includes three Big Ten passers. Here’s why they could and won’t win the award:

Adrian Martinez, Nebraska (2018: 2,617 yards, 64.6%, 17 TDs/8 INTs)

Why He Can Win: The California native is going to put up numbers, make no mistake about that. As a true freshman, Martinez posted 3,246 total yards (629 yards) and accounted for 25 touchdowns, despite missing time early in the season. With his dual-threat ability, he’s a perfect fit for Scott Frost’s quarterback-friendly up-tempo attack. He has the arm to push the ball down the field and is a dynamic runner once he decides to take off. He accounted for over 400 yards in three conference games last season. The B1G West better be ready.

Why He Won’t: As good as Martinez is expected to be, his numbers might not matter come season’s end. In the playoff era, all five winners (Deshaun Watson twice) were headed to the playoffs and in the final season of the BCS era, No. 1 Florida State’s Jameis Winston took home the Davey O’Brien. The Huskers will take a step forward in 2019 but not that big.

Shea Patterson, Michigan (2018: 2,600 yards, 65.6%, 22 TDs/7 INTs)

Why He Can Win: In his first season in Ann Arbor, Patterson put up similar passing numbers to Martinez, although he was used far less frequently as a runner. That was a product of style more than talent, because the former five-star recruit has the tools to do it all. All the pieces are in place for Patterson to have a big season. Four of Michigan’s five starters along the offensive line are back and the Wolverines have one of the most talented receiving corps in the nation. Most importantly, the addition of Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator will put the ball in Patterson’s hands more often and give him every opportunity to shine.  

Why He Won’t: It looks like everything is in place for Patterson to have a breakout season, but even the best plans fall short sometimes. Going spread and up-tempo is new for coach Jim Harbaugh and who knows how he will take to it once the season starts. At times, it’s appeared there have been too many cooks in the offensive kitchen for the Wolverines. They also must get over the Ohio State hump. Without a win there, it’s hard to imagine Patterson taking home any hardware.

Preseason Award Watch Lists: Bednarik | Maxwell |

Nate Stanley, Iowa (2018: 2,852 yards, 59.3%, 26 TDs/10 INTs)

Why He Can Win: The senior signal caller probably has the best arm in the Big Ten, which is why there’s some buzz about Stanley developing into a first-round pick if he has a strong season. He’s blessed with prototypical size, is durable, and experienced. Each year at Iowa Stanley has shown growth and there is no reason that won’t continue in 2019. This also expects to be the strongest offensive line Stanley has had protecting him, including a pair of NFL-caliber tackles in Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson.

Why He Won’t: The longshot of the three, Stanley has multiple obstacles. Beginning with Iowa’s conservative, methodical offense. It’s not conducive to putting up award-winning numbers. He also lost his leading receiver (Nick Easley), as well as first-round pick tight ends TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant. Even if Stanley is good enough, are the pieces around him?

Potential In-Season Add-Ons: (Listed Alphabetically)

Justin Fields, Ohio State: Like Dwayne Haskins a year ago, Fields is a first-year starter which is probably what kept him off the list. Because it’s clearly not the lack of talent as Fields might be the most gifted player in the Big Ten. The Georgia transfer could be a dual-threat dynamo for the Buckeyes.   

Hunter Johnson, Northwestern: The kid was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and sat behind some very talented players at Clemson. Johnson has all the physical tools to be one of the best passers to ever play for Northwestern.  

Brian Lewerke, Michigan State: I get why Lewerke was left off the list. He had a rough junior season with eight TD passes to 11 INTs. But let’s not forget his sophomore season showed enough promise (2,793 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs) that he made the watch list a year ago. If he’s healthy, don’t be surprised if he bounces back.

Elijah Sindelar, Purdue: The senior has an impressive arm, better than David Blough, and plays for one of the best offensive minds in college football in Jeff Brohm. Throwing to Rondale Moore doesn’t hurt either. If he’s healthy and puts it together, Sindelar could put up some very impressive numbers in 2019.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.                        

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