FORT WORTH, Texas – Carolina quarterback Sam Howell begins the 2021 season on the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List, announced Tuesday by the The Davey O’Brien Foundation.
A semifinalist for the award in 2020, Howell enters his junior campaign as one of the top signal callers in college football. His 68 career passing touchdowns are tied for the most in UNC history and the the most ever by an ACC quarterback through a sophomore year.
After tossing an FBS true freshman record 38 touchdowns in 2019, the Indian Trail, N.C., native led the ACC and ranked sixth nationally with 30 touchdown passes in 2020. Additionally, Howell ranked fourth in the country and topped the league with 3,586 passing yards last fall in helping lead the Tar Heels to the Orange Bowl for the first time in program history.
Howell was also named to the Maxwell Award watch list on Monday.
Compiled by a subset of the Davey O’Brien National Selection Committee, this year’s list was selected based on career player performance and expectations heading into the 2021 college football season. All nominees are required to have previously started at least one game at an NCAA Division I institution.
Twelve of the watch list members are previous Davey O’Brien Award semifinalists, including a trio of two-time semifinalists in Miami’s D’Eriq King (2018, 2020), Florida State’s McKenzie Milton (2017, 2018) and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy (2019, 2020). The other previous semifinalists are Utah’s Charlie Brewer (2019), Matt Corral of Ole Miss (2020), UCF’s Dillon Gabriel (2020), Sam Howell of North Carolina (2020), Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall (2020), Tanner Morgan of Minnesota (2019), Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. (2020), Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma (2020) and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder (2020).
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. Appearing on the preseason watch list is not a requirement for a player to win the award.
For the second straight year, players honored as weekly Davey O’Brien Great 8 recipients, as well as any additional quarterbacks approved by the selection subcommittee, will be added to form the official Davey O’Brien QB Class of 2021, which will be announced on Monday, Oct. 25.
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.
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, 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).