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Michigan State Football: Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed make Maxwell Award watch list

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Michigan State at Pittsburgh Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Maxwell Football Club announced its preseason watch list for the 86th Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the “most outstanding player in college football.”

Two Michigan State Spartans made the Maxwell Award watch list, as redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne and redshirt senior wide receiver Jayden Reed were named to it.

The Maxwell Award is named after Robert “Tiny” Maxwell, who was a standout football player, official and sports writer throughout his career. Since 1937, the award has been given to the top college football player each year.

In 2021, Reed led the Spartans in receiving with 59 catches for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns. He earned first-team All-American honors as an all-purpose player by the American Football Coaches Association last season. In addition to his receiving numbers, Reed also ranked first in the Big Ten for punt returns with a 19.8 yards per return average, and he was tied for the FBS lead with two punt returns for touchdowns. Reed was a third-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media as well.

Thorne won the starting quarterback job in 2021. He would go on to break the Michigan State program record for single-season touchdown passes with 27. He completed 234 passes on 388 attempts (60.3 percent) and threw for 3,233 yards and 10 interceptions. He added 181 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground as well. Thorne earned All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition by both the coaches and media.

Reed and Thorne, two longtime friends, should form one of the Big Ten’s best quarterback/wide receiver duos in 2022.

Brad Van Pelt, a College Football Hall of Famer, is the only player from Michigan State to ever win the Maxwell Award, which he accomplished in 1972. Kenneth Walker III was one of three finalists for the award in 2021, which was won by Alabama’s Bryce Young.

The full Maxwell Award preseason watch list for the 2022 season can be viewed in the tweet below.