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Gophers QB Mitch Leidner named to watch list for top college player award

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The pre-season accolades continue to pour in for Minnesota Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner.

Tuesday the senior signal caller was named to the Maxwell Award watch list. The award, is named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell and has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937.

Leidner is one of 90 college football players on the preseason watch list. While being named to an award's watch list in July is a long way from winning the award, it bears note because it means that a growing number of national college football analysts have big expectations for the Gophers quarterback.

The Lakeville native has played in 35 career games, starting 29. He's rushed for 1,129 career yards and 23 touchdowns – second most in school history for a quarterback.

He's also moved up the passing list, ranking sixth in school history with 5,118 career passing yards and eighth in school history with 28 career touchdown passes. Leidner is also one of only two Gopher quarterbacks to pass and rush for 20 career touchdowns – Rickey Foggie is the other.

Last year he became the first Gophers quarterback since Corey Sauter in 1995 to throw for 300-yards in back-to-back games when he threw for 301 yards against Nebraska and 317 yards against Michigan in consecutive weeks.

The love for Leidner began after ESPN's Todd McShay tabbed him as a first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft. The only caution here is that Leidner is coming off surgery to his foot that caused him to miss a large chunk of the offseason program.

If Leidner lives up to the hype and delivers a strong season he could have a good chance to win the award. 1500 ESPN notes that quarterbacks have won 11 of the last 13 Maxwell Awards.

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