Hutchinson, Downing highlight football award watch lists


Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson gets ready to walk onto the field before the Cyclones’ 20-13 loss to No. 19 Clemson on Dec. 29, 2021.

Christian Royston

As the football season quickly approaches, several players are representing Iowa State as players to watch for yearly awards. 

Positional and overall player awards are prestigious ways for players to be awarded for their success during the season. Although the two Iowa State players that made the watch lists still have to work hard to be in the running, recognition of their talent is a big deal this early in the season.

One of the biggest awards in college football is the Maxwell Award, which is given out annually to the most outstanding player in college football. Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson found himself on the watch list for this prestigious award going into the 2022 season.

Undoubtedly, Hutchinson has hugely impacted the Cyclone offense and will continue to be a large part of the offensive production going forward. Hutchinson is coming off a historic season, where he broke the Iowa State single-season reception record with 83, which also led the Big 12 Conference.

Hutchinson also had 987 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2021. He also leads all active receivers in the Big 12 in career receptions (147) and receiving yards (1,758).

Hutchinson hasn’t only been an elite receiver in the Big 12, as his 6.4 receptions per game ranked him 23rd in the nation, but he is also among the top 20 active receivers in career receptions and receiving yards.

It’s clear that Hutchinson will again be the main threat through the year for the Cyclones, and newly named starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers will be looking his way consistently. It will be hard for Hutchinson to beat out other elite talents in the nation, especially since quarterbacks are the most common players to receive the award.

There is still a good chance that Hutchinson will shock the nation, as a wide receiver won the award just two years ago when Alabama’s DeVonta Smith put on a Heisman-winning season. Iowa State players have also entered the spotlight recently, as Breece Hall was a semifinalist for the award in 2021.

When award time comes, the biggest thing to watch for is if a school can take down Alabama’s reign at the top. Alabama players have taken the Maxwell Award three out of the last four years, with five award winners since 2015.

Along with the selection to the Maxwell Award watch list, Hutchinson was also selected to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award on Thursday. The Biletnikoff Award is given annually to the best receiver in the nation.

Hutchinson cemented his status as the best receiver in the Big 12 by earning himself First Team All-Big 12 honors for the second year in a row in 2021 after leading in most major categories among wide receivers in the conference.

Being among the finalists for the award is an incredible achievement, and many receivers who receive the award later make an impact in the NFL. Last year, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Addison won the award and is now planning to play the 2022 season with USC.

Hutchinson wasn’t the only Cyclone highlighting the award watch lists. On Friday, offensive lineman Trevor Downing was named to The Rimington Trophy 2022 Preseason Watch List.

The Rimington Trophy is given out annually to the nation’s best center. After making the move to center at the end of last season, Downing is expected to be a solid anchor on the Iowa State offensive line.

Downing earned First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2021 at the right guard position, where he played most of his snaps. He first made the move to center in the Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson.

Throughout his career, Downing has been a solid starter for Iowa State; recording 26 career starts in his time on the line. Downing also helped the Cyclones record a top-five scoring year in 2021, as they ranked fourth best in scoring average (31.3) and fifth best in offensive average (424.5) in school history.

Downing is a key piece to the success of the Cyclones’ offensive line and should get more of a leadership role at the center position. The goal for 2022 is protecting Dekkers as he plans to take the helm in place of Purdy.

Iowa State opens its season against Southeast Missouri on Sept. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.