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July 1, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., July 1, 2008 - Penn State senior wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) and junior defensive end Maurice Evans (Brooklyn, N.Y.) were named to watch lists for post season awards by the Maxwell Football Club which announced candidates for the Maxwell Award and Chuck Bednarik Award. Club president Ron Jaworksi announced the players who earned recognition on the watch lists based upon their performances in 2007.
Williams was among 10 Big Ten players and 75 players nationally named to the 2008 Watch List for the Maxwell Award presented to the outstanding collegiate football player in the nation since 1937. A record seven Nittany Lions have previously won the Maxwell Award, the last being tailback Larry Johnson in 2002.
A team co-captain, Williams enters his senior season tied for fourth all-time in career receptions at Penn State with 117. He led the Nittany Lions last season with 55 catches, which ranks tied for third best season total in Nittany Lion history. Williams posted 529 yards and three touchdowns receiving last season and his 1,258 career receiving yards rank 15th all-time at Penn State, just 262 yards out of the top 10.
A game breaking threat as a receiver, runner and returner, Williams posted 1,121 all-purpose yards last season and averaged 10.37 yards on his 108 touches. He earned the second Pontiac Game Changing Performance award of his career after a career-best 78-yard punt return for a touchdown that sparked Penn State to victory over Notre Dame last season. He has posted 2,744 career all-purpose yards, averaging 10.2 yards per touch throughout his career and scoring 12 touchdowns. Williams ranked third in the Big Ten averaging 11.0 yards per punt return and had an impressive 6.3-yard average on 136 rushing attempts last season.
Williams is also a candidate for the Fred Biletnikoff Award presented to the nation's top receiver.
Evans was among 10 Big Ten players and 75 of the nation's top defensive standouts named to the 2008 Watch List for the 14th Chuck Bednarik Award presented to the nation's top defensive player.
Two-time Penn State All-American linebacker Dan Connor was named the Bednarik Award winner last year continuing a string of three straight seasons in which a Nittany Lion has won the award. Two-time All-America linebacker Paul Posluszny won the award in 2005 and 2006. Connor (419) and Posluszny (372) rank first and second all-time at Penn State in career tackles. Penn State players have earned a total of four Bednarik Awards with two-time All-America linebacker LaVar Arrington claiming the honor in 1999.
In 2007, Evans recorded a sack in each of the first three games en route to first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and coaches. He was second in the conference in tackles for losses (No. 6 in nation) with 21.5 for minus-117 yards. He was third in the Big Ten in sacks (No. 8 in nation) with 12.5 for minus-94 yards. His 12.5 sacks ranked No. 4 on the Penn State season list and his 21.5 TFL were No. 5 in school annals.
A finalist for the 2007 Ted Hendricks Defensive End Award, the quick and athletic Evans also was second in the Big Ten with five forced fumbles. A U.S. Army All-American at Christ The King High School, he was fifth on the squad with 54 tackles (31 solo) and also had three pass breakups.
Evans is also a candidate for the 2008 Rotary Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski and Hendricks awards, and other post-season honors. He has been selected a first team pre-season All-American by Athlon Sports and second team by Phil Steele's College Football 2008.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced in early November and three finalists will be announced on November 25. The winners of the awards will be announced on the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.
In his 43rd season as head coach, Joe Paterno's squad returns 37 letterwinners and 18 starters (8 offense, 8 defense, 2 specialists) from last year's 9-4 squad that defeated Texas A&M in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Penn State has won 31 of its last 40 games, tied for eighth-best record in the nation over that span. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 25 in the final USA Today Coaches poll, earning their 33rd Top 25 finish under Paterno.