By Shan Reddy
Anticipation for the upcoming 2019 college football season continues to build as Pac-12 and national sports news media released their annual preseason watchlists and All-American teams last week. Utah led the conference with five selections on the preseason All-Pac-12 first team, followed closely by Oregon and the Cardinal with four each. Meanwhile, on the Preseason Associated Press All-America team, Stanford led the Pac-12 with two first team selections.
Highly touted juniors in cornerback Paulson Adebo and offensive tackle Walker Little made both lists, highlighting a talented Cardinal squad with a strong chance of making a Pac-12 title shot this season.
Adebo garnered first team votes on all but one ballot, receiving the most first-team votes of any defensive player in the conference. The 6-foot-1 cornerback has been an early favorite of NFL draft analysts, many of whom have already pegged him as a surefire first-rounder come April 2020. Adebo was also named to watchlists for the Bednarik Award and Bronco Nagurski Trophy, each awarded to college football’s top defensive player at the end of the season, as well as to the Jim Thorpe Award watchlist. The Thorpe Award recognizes the nation’s top defensive back. No Stanford player has ever won the Bednarik, Nagurski or Thorpe award.
Despite only starting in twelve games last season, Little was also named to the Outland Trophy watch list. The trophy is awarded to the nation’s best college football interior lineman; the last and only Stanford player to win the award was Joshua Garnett ‘15. Garnett would go on to become a first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers weeks after winning the prestigious award. Little was one of the nation’s top high school recruits back in 2017, ranking ninth overall among recruits and third among offensive tackles per 247 Sports. The Houston native played nine games as a true freshman and helped Bryce Love set the single-season school rushing record.
An All-Pac-12 second team honoree last season, senior quarterback KJ Costello is projected to keep pace. The Cardinal’s only 2019 Preseason All-Pac-12 Conference Second-Team selection, Costello threw for 29 passing touchdowns last season, the most ever by a Stanford quarterback not named Andrew Luck. Costello led the Pac-12 in yards per attempt with 8.5 and was named to watchlists for the Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, each given annually by independent selection committees to college football’s top quarterback.
An All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season, junior tight end Colby Parkinson made headlines in 2018 when he tied a single-game school record with four touchdown catches and racked up 166 receiving yards, good for second-most in a single game in school history. The 6-foot-7 civil engineering major was the nation’s top tight end recruit coming out of high school in 2017 per 247 Sports and looks to solidify his status as one of the Cardinal’s top passing weapons this coming season.
The team’s fourth and final selection to the All-Pac-12 first team is senior kicker Jet Toner, who was selected to the conference’s second team last season. After setting the single-season school record with a 0.933 field goal percentage last season, Toner was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list alongside the nation’s top collegiate kickers. The Honolulu native recently sat down with The Daily’s James Hemker to discuss the upcoming season and his hopes of making it to the NFL.
Nonetheless, preseason awards are certainly no promise of in-season success; the Cardinal football team must steer clear of the injury bug and turn around last season’s poor defense if they ever hope to push for a spot at the winner’s table come playoff selection time.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.