Luke Falk, Cody O'Connell and Hercules Mata'afa kick off watch list season for the Cougars with their appearances on the Maxwell and Bednarik Trophy Award watch lists

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Watch list season is here!

The annual precursor to football season is the release of watch lists for various college football awards in the lead up to the start of the season.

Three Cougars found their names on the Bednarik and Maxwell Award watch lists that were released Monday.

WSU seniorĀ Luke Falk is one of 35 quarterbacks on theĀ watch list for the Maxwell Award that goes to the best player in college football annually. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson won the award in 2016.

Falk completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,468 passing yards last season, and finished his junior campaign as a finalist for the Manning Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Burlsworth Award. He opted to return for his senior season instead of declaring early for the NFL draft, and is viewed as one of the top quarterback draft prospects for 2017.

Falk was accompanied on the Maxwell Award watch list by offensive guard Cody O’Connell, who is coming off a surprising breakthrough season that saw him become only the second Cougar to ever win unanimous All-American honors.

O’Connell finished his junior season as an Outland Trophy finalist, and will reprise his role at left guard this season.

Meanwhile, defensive end Hercules Mata’afa was named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award that goes to the best defensive player in college football.

Mata’afa finished his sophomore season in 2016 as an All-Pac-12 second team selection. He tallied 13.5 tackles for loss, had a team-high five sacks and also had 47 tackles.