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    July 20, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Preseason honors continue to roll in for Liberty’s Malik Willis with the redshirt junior being named to the nation’s top quarterback award watch list.

    Willis is one of 30 FBS quarterbacks named to the 2021 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Watch announced earlier today.

    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.

    Yesterday, Willis was named to the 2021 Maxwell Award preseason award watch list, presented annually to the outstanding player in college football.

    Willis finished 2020 as the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country. He led all FBS quarterbacks with 944 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Willis set school records in both statistical categories for a quarterback with his standout totals.

    The native of Atlanta, Ga., finished his first season under center for the Flames completing 170-of-265 passing attempts for 2,260 yards and 20 touchdowns.

    Willis captured a series of honors during his first season on the field for the Flames in 2020. He was a Phil Steele Postseason All-America (honorable mention team member), Dudley Award winner (top player in Virginia as presented by the Richmond Times-Dispatch), Davey O'Brien Award Quarterback Class of 2020 member, VaSID Offensive Player of the Year and was named to several national honors watch lists (CFPA National Performer of the Year, Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and the Maxwell Award).

    Willis led the Flames in total offense (3,204 yards), passing yards (2,260) and passing touchdowns (20) in 2020, while finished the year No. 7 in the country in rushing touchdowns and No. 16 in rushing yards. 

    Sixteen semifinalists selected from the QB Class of 2021 list will be named on Monday, Nov. 8. The Foundation will announce the three finalists two weeks later (Monday, Nov. 22).

    The 2021 Davey O’Brien Award winner will be unveiled live on ESPN on Thursday, Dec. 9, during The Home Depot College Football Awards. Fan voting on social media will again play a role in the semifinalist, finalist and winner voting totals when combined with the national selection committee’s ballots.

    The 45th Annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.

    Willis helped Liberty to a season of "firsts" in 2020, including the team’s first-ever national ranking, first win over an ACC opponent, the best start in school history (8-0 to start 2020), first-ever win over a top-25 FBS program and back-to-back bowl game wins.

    Liberty defeated a pair of ACC foes in Syracuse and in-state opponent Virginia Tech. The two wins made Liberty the first non-Power 5 team to post a pair of wins over ACC schools in the same season since Houston in 2015.

    The Flames finished the season with a 10-1 record, tying the program's record for wins in a season (Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 10-2 record).

    Liberty finished the campaign ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the Amway Coaches Poll, the highest year-ending FBS rankings in school history.

    Liberty capped off the 2020 season with a thrilling 37-34 overtime win over No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The win marked Liberty's first-ever victory over a FBS top-25 ranked program.

    2021 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List
    Connor Bazelak, Missouri, So., 6-3, 212, Dayton, Ohio
    Charlie Brewer, Utah, Sr., 6-1, 210, Austin, Texas
    Matt Corral, Ole Miss, Jr., 6-1, 205, Ventura, Calif.
    Malik Cunningham, Louisville, Jr., 6-1, 200, Montgomery, Ala.
    Dustin Crum, Kent State, Sr., 6-3, 207, Grafton, Ohio
    Jayden Daniels, Arizona State, So., 6-3, 185, San Bernardino, Calif.
    JT Daniels, Georgia, Jr., 6-3, 210, Irvine, Calif.
    Max Duggan, TCU, Jr., 6-2, 201, Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Dillon Gabriel, UCF, Jr., 6-0, 200, Mililani, Hawaii
    Frank Harris, UTSA, Sr., 6-0, 200, Schertz, Texas
    Sam Howell, North Carolina, Jr., 6-1, 220, Indian Trail, N.C.
    Phil Jurkovec, Boston College, Jr., 6-5, 226, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    D’Eriq King, Miami, Sr., 5-11, 195, Manvel, Texas
    Levi Lewis, Louisiana, Sr., 5-10, 184, Baton Rouge, La.
    Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina, So., 6-3, 210, Indian Trail, N.C.
    Graham Mertz, Wisconsin, So., 6-3, 225, Overland Park, Kan.
    McKenzie Milton, Florida State, Sr., 5-11, 192, Kapolei, Hawaii
    Tanner Morgan, Minnesota, Sr., 6-2, 215, Union, Ky.
    Michael Penix Jr., Indiana, Jr., 6-3, 218, Tampa, Fla.
    Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Sr., 6-1, 220, Gilbert, Ariz.
    Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma, So., 6-1, 200, Phoenix, Ariz.
    Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati, Sr., 6-4, 215, Louisville, Ky.
    Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, Jr., 6-1, 205, Denton, Texas
    Kedon Slovis, USC, Jr., 6-3, 215, Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Nick Starkel, San Jose State, Sr., 6-3, 214, Argyle, Texas
    Carson Strong, Nevada, Jr., 6-4, 215, Vacaville, Calif.
    Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA, Sr., 6-1, 200, Las Vegas, Nev.
    D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson, So, 6-4, 250, Inland Empire, Calif.
    Grant Wells, Marshall, R-Fr., 6-2, 210, Charleston, W.Va.
    Malik Willis, Liberty, R-Jr., 6-1, 215, Atlanta, Ga.


    By Conference: ACC (6), Big 12 (4), Pac-12 (4), Big Ten (3), SEC (3), American (2), C-USA (2), Mountain West (2), Sun Belt (2), Mid-American (1), Independents (1)

    By Class: Senior (11), Junior (12), Sophomore (6), Redshirt Freshman (1)