It’s “watch list season” and Mississippi State’s got a guy that is rightfully getting some recognition as we creep our way through the offseason. Redshirt junior quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, has earned his way onto two prominent watch lists.
Both the Davey O’Brien award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award are keeping an eye on the 6-5 and 230 pound signal caller.
The Davey O'Brien Award watch list is made up of 30 of the nation's top college quarterbacks, and was put together based on player performance during the 2016 season. Fitzgerald led the Southeastern Conference in total offense last year during his sophomore campaign with 3,798 yards.
Fitzgerald rushed for over 100 yards eight times last season, an SEC record by a quarterback. His 7.1 yards per rush was also the highest of any SEC signal caller in history. Fitzgerald also led the nation in 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing performances, and became the first SEC quarterback to do it three times in a season since Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in 2012.
The award will name 16 semifinalists Nov. 7, and will name its three finalists Nov. 20. The winner will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award also released its watch list Wednesday morning, with Fitzgerald also earning a spot on that list. A total of 47 quarterbacks were named to the watch list, all of whom are seniors or fourth-year juniors.
The Golden Arm Award will announce 15 finalists for the award in September, with the award presented Dec. 8.
Watch lists typically don’t mean much, 30 different quarterbacks were named to the Davey O’Brien watch list and then 47 were named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list, so it’s not like these things are all that exclusive.
However, there’s a growing buzz around Fitzgerald, largely due to the tremendous season he had in 2016. He’s already the second best quarterback that Dan Mullen has had here in Starkville and he’s the centerpiece of an offense that could continue to improve going into next year.
Assuming Fitzgerald improves his passing accuracy and doesn’t take any steps back in his decision making, he should continue to get plenty of recognition as the season wears on.