Willis Named to Maxwell Award Watch List
Liberty’s Malik Willis continues to garner attention heading into the 2021 season, including today’s national award announcement.
Willis is one of 80 FBS players named to the 2021 Maxwell Award preseason award watch list. The Maxwell Football Club today announced its watch list for the 85th Maxwell Award presented annually to the outstanding player in college football.
The award is proudly sponsored by Mammoth Tech and The Athletes’ Corner, which are Executive Partners of the Maxwell Football Club.
The Maxwell Award has been presented to the College Player of the Year since 1937 and is named in honor of Robert “Tiny” Maxwell who was a former standout at the Swarthmore College and a renowned sports writer and football official.
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.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced November 1, 2021, while the three finalists for the Maxwell Award will be unveiled November 22, 2021.
The winners of the 2021 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 9, 2021. The formal presentations of the Maxwell Award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 11, 2022.
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.