Five football players on award watch lists for upcoming season

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Football season has yet to begin, but the hype is already mounting for TCU, with five players on potential award watchlists.

Center Austin Schlottmann was named to the Watch List for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s best center, running back Kyle Hicks was added to the Watch List for the Maxwell Award, given to the country’s College Player of the Year and linebackers Ty Summers and Travin Howard were named to the 2017 Bednarik Award Watch List for the nation’s best defensive player. Sophmore Adam Nunez joined the group Wednesday, by being put on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter.

Schlottmann, a senior from Brenham, Texas, has seen action in 37 of TCU’s 39 games since stepping foot on campus. He has started 15 games including 11 in 2016, missing the Kansas and Oklahoma games due to injury.  Schlottmann allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback pressure over his 752 snaps during the 2016 season, leading to a second-team All-Big 12 honor.

TCU’s Jake Kirkpatrick won the 2010 Rimington Trophy as a member of the Horned Frogs’ Rose Bowl winning team.

Hicks is coming off a year that saw him lead the team in both rushing yards (1,042) and receptions (47). The senior from Arlington, Texas was the first Horned Frog to accomplish the feat since Basil Mitchell did it in 1996.

Hicks’ 1459 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns led to an honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection. He was also tabbed as an Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Honorable-Mention Player of the Week for his performance in a 62-22 victory over Baylor Nov. 5. Hicks was also voted by his teammates as the 2016 Dan Rogers Most Valuable Player, an honor that had not been won by a running back since Tomlinson in 1999 and 2000.

Howard, a senior from Longview, Texas, led the Big 12 Conference in tackles in 2016, leading to a first-team All-Big 12 selection. Howard’s 130 tackles last season came a year after he picked up 105 tackles in 2015, making him the second player under Gary Patterson with consecutive 100-tackle seasons. The only previous player was Martin Patterson in 2003 and 2004.

Summers, a redshirt-junior from San Antonio, finished second in the Big 12 in tackles in 2016 with 121 en route to a second-team All-Big 12 selection. Summers has been a key cog the last two seasons alongside Howard, totaling 207 tackles and nine tackles for loss.

Both Summers and Howard were, unsurprisingly, listed as the two starters in Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense on the post-spring depth chart. Also listed on the three-deep depth chart at linebacker were juniors Montrel Wilson, Arico Evans, Alec Dunham and senior Sammy Douglas.

The TCU defense returns seven of 11 starters from 2016, including other all-conference selections in senior defensive backs Nick Orr and Ranthony Texada.

Nunez, a redshirt-sophomore from Houston, Texas, dropped 15 punts inside the 10-yard line with only two touchbacks in his freshman season in 2016. He pinned 26 punts inside the 20-yard line while accruing an average of 39.6 yards per punt, the best by a Horned Frog punter since 2013. Opposing punt returners totaled just 87 yards on 22 returns.

The Horned Frogs will begin fall camp on July 30 and open their season against Jackson State on September 2 at 7 p.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium.