A dozen Pac-12 football players made the Maxwell Award watch list several weeks ago. Just for fun, let us do some math and make some predictions of what it would take for each candidate to win the Maxwell award. The national competition is fierce, but within the Pac-12 there are some incredible players who have a shot at winning. Let's break it down.
Arizona - Anu Solomon
Solomon is perhaps the long shot of all the Pac-12 Maxwell watch list candidates. Though his QBR rating and completion percentage were up last year he would have to make a monumental leap in yards completed, touchdowns and completion percentage. My benchmark for Solomon would be a minimum of 40 touchdowns passing or running and at least 4,500 yards thrown not to mention a 68 percent completion percentage or higher. If he can “Bear Down” and hit those marks he's got a chance, a slim one, but a chance.
Arizona State - Demario Richard
Demario Richard is coming off 1,000 plus yard season which is not too shabby. To get to the Maxwell Award level he will have to double last years numbers in terms of yards and score 20+ touchdowns. With Christian McCaffrey also in competition even these type of numbers might not be enough but would at least put him in contention.
Cal - Davis Webb
This QB is the wild card of the Pac-12 group. He is a graduate transfer from Texas Tech who was a backup to Patrick Mahomes last season. The year before though in 2014 he was on the Maxwell list and put up decent stats. In a similar scheme under Sonny Dykes he may excel and put up the kind of numbers that pundits say makes him NFL draft worthy. What numbers are those? Let's say 5,200 yards. That will be a good starting point to him winning the Maxwell award.
Oregon - Royce Freeman
Royce Freeman has been flying under the radar since last year but 2016 may be his year to be remembered. He eclipsed over 2,000 all-purpose yards last season. In order to be Maxwell award worthy that number is going to have be North of 2,500 yards with 22 touchdowns or more to have a clear shot. 2,000 of those yards need to be rushing yards. With Quarterback Dakota Prukop being green on the field, Freeman has a decent shot at hitting those marks.
Stanford - Christian McCaffrey
The hands down favorite of Pac-12 Maxwell award candidates, Christian McCaffrey only needs to see a slight uptick in production to nab this award. With 2,664 yards all-purpose last season the only thing that may have kept this man from winning both the Maxwell and Heisman award were a few more touchdowns. If he can repeat the all-purpose yards and get about five more touchdowns than last year McCaffrey has the best shot of winning the Maxwell award. If he stays healthy he would be my pick to win among Pac-12 candidates.
UCLA - Josh Rosen
Rosen had the phenomenal year many expected as a true freshman. Though some rookie mistakes lost Rosen some games, expect Rosen to step up into a veteran-like role for UCLA this year. If Rosen throws for over 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns I think Rosen will get that Maxwell trophy. And hearing Jim Mora's opinion I would believe this scenario is very achievable. He would be the #2 pick on the pac-12 list behind McCaffrey on winning the Maxwell award.
USC - Ronald Jones II
Another running back talent that has potential to do great things, this year he is still a wild card in the Maxwell hunt. Max Browne will be airing the ball out to a fellow Maxwell award candidate Juju Smith-Schuster, thus splitting the potential yardage necessary to win the award. Unless Ronald Jones II can summon Reggie Bush mojo and hit 2,500 all-purpose yards with 20 touchdowns he is unlikely to be a strong Maxwell candidate.
USC - Juju Smith-Schuster
The best receiver in the county is a man named Juju. He needs to hit the 2,000 yard receiving mark and at least 18 touchdowns caught to win the Maxwell. He most certainly would get there this season if not for the talented running back at USC already mentioned. Otherwise, Smith-Schuster would have been my #1 pick to win.
Washington - Jake Browning
Browning set QB records in high school that would be make video game numbers seem ho hum. He holds the national record for most touchdowns in a season in high school (91) and most total (226). Though he did not set any records at Washington yet he had a strong true freshman campaign and has helped put Washington back on the powerhouse map. The previous Washington record for touchdowns in one year is 33 held by Keith Price. The new record to look for is 36 by Jake Browning with 4,800 yards to boot. Possible yes. Likely not since Myles Gaskin will certainly nab some of Browning's thunder with his own record chasing.
Washington - Myles Gaskin
The most talented freshman running back in the country last year by far, look for Gaskin to accelerate into a dark horse campaign for the Maxwell. Gaskin's skills could give McCaffrey a run for his money. If Gaskin can get his YAC (Yards after Contact) above 5 yards then expect him to set some yardage and touchdown records at Washington as well as win the Maxwell award.
WSU – Luke Falk
It is almost not fair. Luke Falk will probably have the most yards thrown in the Pac-12. He probably will also have the most touchdowns. If any other quarterback put up the numbers Luke Falk will likely produce they would easily win the Maxwell award. However, if you took any other star QB (Rosen, Browning, etc.) and gave them the Air Raid offense playbook they would do as well or better than Falk. That is why Luke Falk will have to throw for over 6,000 yards and score 45 touchdowns to beat out the other candidates. It's possible even with those numbers he still would not win. Poor Luke.
WSU – Gabe Marks
Gabe Marks is likely the 2nd best receiver this year in the Pac-12 (unless John Ross at UW has a huge comeback year), but will have to put up numbers better than Smith-Schuster to win the Maxwell Award. That is unlikely to happen. The same bias applies to Marks regarding the Air Raid. Marks needs 200 receptions and 2,500 receiving yards to be considered the best. Even in the Air Raid scheme those are lofty numbers.