Penn State is tied for the national lead among all colleges and universities with its seven Maxwell Award winners. The Nittany Lions' four Bednarik Award recipients are the most of any school in the nation.
The Maxwell Award is presented in honor of Robert W. (Tiny) Maxwell, a legendary college player, official and sports columnist. First bestowed in 1937, the Maxwell Award will be presented for the 78th time to the nation's college football player of the year.
The Bednarik Award was established in 1995 and is presented annually in honor of linebacking great Chuck Bednarik, a member of both the College Football and NFL Halls of Fame. This season marks the 20th season the award will be bestowed upon the nation's defensive player of the year.
Hackenberg was selected the 2013 Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year, becoming the second-straight Nittany Lion to win the award, with defensive end Deion Barnes doing so in 2012. His tremendous true freshman season was recognized nationally, as he garnered first-team True Freshman All-America accolades from 247Sports.com. He completed 231 of 392 passes for 2,955 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. Hackenberg also ran for four touchdowns and accumulated 2,887 yards of total offense, an average of 240.6 ypg.
The Virginia native broke one Penn State overall passing record and 12 school freshman passing records, including the freshman marks for game and season passing completions, attempts, yards and touchdown passes. He compiled four 300-yard passing games to tie Matt McGloin for the school single season record and tie Kerry Collins for second place on the career list, just two behind McGloin’s career mark of six. Hackenberg completed 14 passes of 40 yards or longer, which was tied for the most nationally by a freshman and eighth overall, including a season-long 68-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breneman in the win at No. 14 Wisconsin.
Lucas will be one of the cornerstones of the Penn State defense this season after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten after a breakout 2013 campaign. He tied for third in the Big Ten with 16 passes defended (1.33 avg.). Lucas tied for the team lead with three interceptions, all of which came in conference play, and led the Nittany Lions with 13 pass breakups.
The metropolitan New York City product was third on the team with 64 tackles, leading the squad with 45 solo stops. He also recorded 4.5 tackles for loss (minus-20), one sack and forced two fumbles. Lucas grabbed his first career interception in the first quarter against No. 18 Michigan, returning it inside the Michigan 15-yard line to set up the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown in the four-overtime victory. He led the team with a career-high 11 stops (seven solo) at No. 4 Ohio State Lucas also made nine stops at Indiana and eight stops vs. Nebraska.
Penn State’s seven Maxwell Award winners are tied with Notre Dame for most in the history of the award. Rich Lucas was the first Nittany Lion to receive the honor, winning in 1959, followed by Glenn Ressler (1964), Mike Reid (1969), John Cappelletti (1973), Chuck Fusina (1978), Kerry Collins (1994) and Larry Johnson (2002).
Penn State football student-athletes have won the Chuck Bednarik Award a nation's best four times - LaVar Arrington in 1999, Paul Posluszny in 2005 and 2006, and Dan Connor in 2007. Defensive tackle Devon Still was a Bednarik Award finalist in 2011.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced November 3, 2014, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 24, 2014. The winners of the 2013 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on December 11, 2014. The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Revel Casino Hotel Atlantic City on March 6, 2015.
The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, evaluating past performance and future potential. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, head coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for the awards. The Maxwell and Bednarik Awards are members of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).
James Franklin was named Penn State's 16th head football coach on January 11. A product of Langhorne, Pa., Franklin led Vanderbilt University to unprecedented success the past three years as head coach, including consecutive nine-win seasons and bowl victories the past two years, as well as back-to-back Top 25 finishes, all for the first time in Vanderbilt history. In his 20th year of coaching, Franklin was a two-time All-PSAC quarterback at East Stroudsburg University and set or tied 23 school records.
Penn State returns 40 letterwinners and 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist) for the upcoming season and will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall. The Nittany Lions will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25, 8 p.m.), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming, 12 p.m.) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. Penn State will host Akron (Sept. 6), UMass (Sept. 20) and Temple (Nov. 15) during its non-conference slate.
The Nittany Lions open the season Aug. 30 vs. UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.
--Penn State Athletic Communications
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.