WMU Football Kaleb Eleby

WMU quarterback Kaleb Eleby

The Maxwell Football Club announced watchlists for its two most prodigious awards Monday, with Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby being named to the Maxwell Award watchlist and defensive tackle Ralph Holley earning a spot on the Bednarik Award watchlist.

The Maxwell Award is given annually to the best player in college football as voted on by a group that includes NCAA football head coaches, Maxwell Football Club members, sportswriters and sportscasters from across the country. Eleby earned a spot on the watchlist for posting the third-best passer rating in the country behind first-round NFL Draft picks Mac Jones and Zach Wilson.

Eleby earned a third team All-MAC selection by completing 99 of 153 pass attempts last season (64.7%) for 1715 yards and 18 touchdowns with just two interceptions in six games in 2020. He averaged 285.8 yards per game and three touchdowns, while adding four rushing touchdowns on the year as well.

The Chuck Bednarik award, named for the Pennsylvania University and Philadelphia Eagles legend, is given annually to the best defensive player in college football. Ralph Holley was a first team All-MAC pick last season after tying for a team-high with nine tackles for loss, ending the year with 29 total tackles as well as three sacks.

Holley has now made 30 starts for the Brown and Gold over the last three seasons, and Pro Football Focus gave him a 90.6 pass rush grade in 2020, good for No. 12 among all defensive linemen in the country. He has totaled at least nine tackles for loss for three consecutive seasons.

Eleby was one of four MAC players named to the Maxwell watchlist, joined by Buffalo running back Kevin Marks, Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum, and Eastern Michigan quarterback Preston Hutchinson. Holley was one of five MAC defensive players honored on the Bednarik watchlist, along with Buffalo linebacker James Patterson, Central Michigan linebackers Troy Hairston and Troy Brown, and Toledo defensive tackle Desjuan Johnson.

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