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Hackenberg, Hamilton, Zettel Named To Preseason Watch Lists

A trio of Nittany Lions were named to preseason watch lists Tuesday morning.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton are both candidates for the Maxwell Award for the National Player of the Year, while defensive tackle Anthony Zettel is a nominee for the Bednarik Award for the National Defensive Player of the Year.

Hackenberg’s prowess on the field has not gone unnoticed. He enters the upcoming season already as one of the greatest passers in Penn State history — ranked No. 3 in school history in career passing yards (5,932), attempts (876), and completions (501), and No. 4 in career total offense (5,770).  Last season, he led the Big Ten with 20.7 completions per game, ranking 23rd nationally, and finished second in the conference and 39th nationally with 2,977 passing yards. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit also buys into the Hackenberg hype.

“He’s big, he has a presence in the pocket, he has great vision downfield, he throws a nice ball and can throw it with touch, he can throw it downfield, he reads coverages well,” he said. “He seems to have a moxie about him, where the moment never gets too big. There’s a lot to like about his game.”

Alongside Hackenberg on offense, Hamilton has been a force to be reckoned with. His 82 receptions and 899 yards set the school records for a freshman. In his first season on the field, he became the third-straight Penn State wide receiver to lead the Big Ten in receptions and was named second-team All-Big Ten. His 14 catches vs. Ohio State was the most in a game by a Nittany Lion in program history.

Despite moving from DE to DT, Zettel was one of the backbones of the Nittany Lions’ defense last season. He logged career-best totals with 17 tackles-for-loss and 8.0 sacks and was an All-Big Ten first-team pick by both the coaches and media. Zettel was the only FBS player to rank among the national leaders in sacks and interceptions per game in 2014.

Penn State is tied for the national lead with its seven Maxwell Award winners since 1937. Since the Bednarik Award’s inception in 1995, just over one-fifth of the winners are from Penn State. LaVar Arrington took home the award in 1999, followed by Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor winning back-t0-back-to-back from 2005 to 2007.

Semifinalists for the awards will be announced November 2 and the three finalists will be unveiled November 23.

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