Photo Credit: John Peterson

Tracking Huskers on 2022 CFB Award Watch Lists

July 25, 2022

When Nebraska football kicks off the 2022 season just over a month from now, there will be a lot of new faces on the field. 

The Huskers will start the year without Adrian Martinez starting at quarterback for the first time in four years. Multiple important 2021 starters on both sides of the ball graduated and are looking to find their place in the NFL.

Award watch lists, especially in the preseason, can’t measure a team’s overall talent. But with so many changes on the Nebraska roster, it was worth keeping an eye out for which Huskers would be considered talented enough to reach top awards.

In the first week of watch list announcements, no Huskers were considered. Last week consisted primarily of offensive awards, along with the Maxwell Award, which is given to the nation’s best player. 

Arguably the most notable omissions were quarterback Casey Thompson and tight end Travis Vokolek at their respective positions. 

Butkus Award – Monday, July 25

Luke Reimer became the first Husker selected to a 2022 award watch list, appearing among the Butkus Award candidates. The award is presented annually to the nation’s best linebacker. 

In 2021, Reimer was an All-Big Ten honorable mention, and made a big impact on a strong defense. He totaled 108 tackles, six tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, six pass breakups and an interception. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after the Huskers won against Buffalo, racking up 16 tackles and an interception.

Former linebacker and current athletic director Trev Alberts won the Butkus Award in 1993 with the Huskers, being the only player from the program to ever do so.

Jim Thorpe Award – Monday, July 25

No Huskers were on the watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, awarded to the nation’s best defensive back annually. Six Big Ten players made the list. 

Bronko Nagurski Trophy – Tuesday, July 26

Junior edge rusher Ochaun Mathis was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list on Tuesday. The transfer is one of 85 names on the list, and one of 10 from the Big Ten. The Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the best defensive player in the nation.

Mathis has yet to play a snap for the Huskers after spending the last four years at TCU. With the Horned Frogs, he was a second team All-Big 12 selection in 2020 and 2021. Last year, he recorded 45 tackles, four sacks, seven tackles for loss and three pass breakups.

Ndamukong Suh is the only Husker to have won the Nagurski Trophy, bringing it home in 2009.

Outland Trophy – Tuesday, July 26

No Huskers appeared among the 89 players on the Outland Trophy watch list.

The award is given to the top interior lineman on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Nebraska has the most Outland Trophy winners, with nine all-time.

Lou Groza Award – Wednesday, July 27

No Huskers appeared on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s top placekicker. Four kickers on the 30-man list are from the Big Ten.

Nebraska had pronounced kicking struggles last year, making just half of its field goals. Connor Culp, who was the 2020 Big Ten kicker of the year and appeared on the 2021 watch list for the Groza award, made six of 12 attempts.

Ray Guy Award – Wednesday, July 27

Nebraska’s Brian Buschini was one of 49 punters named to the Ray Guy Award watch list on Wednesday.

He’s the third Husker to appear on a watch list, following linebacker Luke Reimer and edge rusher Ochaun Mathis. Like Mathis, Buschini transferred to Nebraska in the offseason. He previously played at Montana, where he was named the FCS Punter of the Year and a first-team All-American in 2021. The now-sophomore placed 35 of his 75 career punts inside the 20-yard line.

The Huskers were one of the worst punting teams in the conference last year, and they’ll be hoping for Buschini to help change that.

Wuerffel Trophy – Thursday, July 28

Nebraska offensive lineman Ethan Piper was one of 115 players named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list on Thursday. The trophy honors players for their community service work away from the field.

Piper, who started in three of the five games he played last year, has been honored for his academic and community service work. He was a recipient of the Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award in 2021, and is a two-time member of the Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer citizenship teams. Piper also was named Academic All-Big Ten twice.

Paul Hornung Award – Thursday, July 28

Husker receiver Trey Palmer was named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list Thursday.

The award is given annually to the most versatile player in college football. Palmer, who transferred from LSU in the offseason after spending three years with the Tigers, is a wide receiver and return specialist. He will presumably have significant opportunities in both spots during the upcoming season.

Palmer totaled 30 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns with the Tigers in 2021. The former five-star recruit returned 18 punts and seven kickoffs as well that year, for 115 yards and 142 yards, respectively. He also had a kickoff return touchdown in 2020 and a punt return touchdown in 2019.

Chuck Bednarik Award – Monday, Aug. 1 

Junior linebacker Luke Reimer landed on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik award, presented annually to the nation’s best defensive player.

A former walk-on, Reimer made an immediate impression in Lincoln, appearing in 10 games as a true freshman in 2019. He started five of six games, missing two to injury, in the COVID-shortened 2022 season, then fully broke out as a full-time starter last season. Reimer made 109 tackles in 12 games, ranking fifth in the Big Ten in total tackles and fourth in tackles per game (9.08), earning honorable mention All-Big Ten. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last season after recording 16 tackles with an interception in the Huskers’ 28-3 win over Buffalo on Sept. 11.

The Bednarik Award was first awarded in 1995, and a Husker has claimed it once. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh won the award in 2009.

Nebraska opens the season Aug. 27 in Dublin, Ireland, against Northwestern a two-time Bednarik Award winner . . . sort of. Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald took the first and second Bednarik Awards, winning in 1995 and 1996.

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