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30 Sun Belt players named to the national award preseason watch lists

The Sun Belt is (too) often regarded as the weakest FBS football conference, but there is no shortage of stars to watch in 2016.

Elijah McGuire is among the Sun Belt's most decorated preseason talent.
Elijah McGuire is among the Sun Belt's most decorated preseason talent.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It may surprise you to learn that not everyone is wild about preseason college football award watch lists. What should be regarded as a moment of pride for hardworking student athletes is often ridiculed in the media and behind the invisibility cloak of social media.

Ha ha! I get it! Lots of college football players are named to preseason watch lists! Good burns, y'all! Award yourself an ESPY! Rest assured, valued reader, I am not a Watch List snob. If anything, extracting the wheat from the chaff of 128 college football programs makes it easy for guys like me.

For example, were it not for College Football Watch List Season, I'd have had only a layman's awareness of the Sun Belt's talent richness. Now the research is done for me. Thirty different SBC players bring the #SunBeltHeat! If we can assume that each Sun Belt roster has 105 players, that means only 2.5% of Sun Belters made a list. How many of us are in the top 2.5% of anything?

So who are these guys? Bad asses, all of them! Do any of a chance at actually handling the hardware? Not unless Leonard Fournette transfers to the ULM Warhawks. Still, the talent in the Sun Belt is on fire for 2016. You'd do well to watch these guys, even if you're Stewart Mandel.

Sun Belt "Watch-List Players" to Watch in 2016

Appalachian St. Mountaineers

Marcus Cox, RB (Maxwell, Doak)

Barrett Burns, TE (Mackey)

Parker Collins, K (Guy)

Darian Small, DL (Wuerffel)

Taylor Lamb, QB (O'Brien)

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, DE (Bednarik, Nagurski)

Devin Mondie, C  (Rimington)

Cody Brown, DB (Thorpe)

Blaise Taylor, DB/PR/KR (Wuerffel)

Warren Wand, RB (Walker)

Georgia State Panthers

Keith Rucker, TE (Mackey, Wuerffel)

Gabe Mobley, C (Rimington)

Bobby Baker, DB (Thorpe)

Robert Davis, WR (Biketnikoff)

Penny Hart, WR (Biletnikoff)

South Alabama Jaguars

Gerald Everett, TE (Mackey)

Aleem Sunanon, K, (Groza)

Xavier Johnson, RB (Hornung)

Jeremy Reeves, DB, (Thorpe)

Troy Trojans

Antonio Garcia, OL (Outland)

John Johnson, WR (Wuerffel)

Jordan Chunn, RB (Walker)

Georgia Southern Eagles

Matt Breida, RB (Maxwell, Walker)

Andy Kwon, C (Rimington)

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

Elijah McGuire, RB (Maxwell, Walker, Hornung)

Karmichael Dunbar, DL (Weurfful)

Idaho Vandals

Austin Rehkow, K (Guy)

Steve Matlock, C (Rimington)

New Mexico State Aggies

Larry Rose, RB (Maxwell, Walker, Camp)

Texas State Bobcats

Felix Romero (Weurfful)

Notes and Observations

  • Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Georgia State led all programs with five nominees each for six awards.
  • Louisiana's Elijah McGuire and New Mexico State's Larry Rose III earned the most preseason bling with three nominations apiece.
  • ULM Warhawks was the only Sun Belt program shut out of College Awards Watch List Season. New head coach Matt Viator is starting from scratch.
  • The Sun Belt is loaded at running back, with five rushers earning a Doak Walker nod. A sixth rusher, Xavier Johnson of South Alabama, received a Paul Hornung note.

If you note any omissions from this list, feel free to give me hell on the comments sections.