After a breakout season as a sophomore, many national media outlets are predicting another outstanding season for Ball State football running back James Gilbert this fall. Gilbert found his name on the initial Maxwell Award watch list which was released Monday.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official. The watch list incorporates a broad spectrum of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast. Returning Maxwell Award winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, headlines the way for the 2017 watch list.
Gilbert, hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, averaged 111 rushing yards per game in 2016, which ranked second in the Mid-American Conference and 22nd nationally. He piled up 1,332 rushing yards last fall, the fourth most in a single season by a Ball State player. Gilbert reached the 100-yard mark seven times, including a stretch of five consecutive games in the middle of the year.
Gilbert’s best single-game performance came at Buffalo last October. He rushed for 264 yards and two scores, one of which was an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter, in the 31-21 victory. The 264 yards are the second highest total in the Ball State single game record book.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced on Oct. 30 while the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 20. The winner of the 2017 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 7.
The Maxwell Football Club’s selection committee put together the Maxwell Award watch list. Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside was the only other MAC player to find his name on the prestigious list. Former Ball State quarterbacks Keith Wenning (2013) and Nate Davis (2008) were the two most recent Cardinals to earn a spot on the Maxwell Award watch list.
Ball State kicks off the 2017 season at Illinois on Sept. 2. The home opener is slated for Saturday, Sept. 9 against UAB.