The Maxwell Award is given to the top player in all of college football for a given season.
His selection as a player to keep an eye on shouldn't come as too much of a shock.
Ash is coming off a season where he finished No. 21 nationally in passing efficiency, completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He has the 15th highest passing efficiency among returning quarterbacks, and the sixth-highest among BCS quarterbacks who aren't heading into their senior years.
But even beyond Ash's accomplishments to this point, and his projections as an excellent player moving forward, he should be on the list for another reason. Texas has a chance to win, and win big this season. The Big 12 is as wide-open at the top as it has been, and lest anyone forget: the Longhorns finished third in the league a year ago, and return more pieces than any team that finished above them.
Chief among those pieces might be Ash, who gives Texas continuity at the quarterback position for the first time since Colt McCoy. And that continuity, and the Longhorn staff's ever-growing faith in Ash, who has won 10 of his last 13 starts, appears that it will lead to a an up-tempo attack that should play to the intelligent quarterback's strengths. If the up-tempo attack succeeds — and with the number of pieces the Longhorns are bringing back from an offense that averaged nearly 36 points per game while NOT going up-tempo — Ash is going to be part of an offense that puts up numbers, and likely a part of a team that puts up wins.
Lately, the winners of the big-time awards — read: player or the year awards like the Heisman, Maxwell, etc. — have been the kinds of players who have put up video game numbers. But it wasn't that long ago that being the quarterback and most important piece of a team that won a lot of games was enough to put you in the race. That was certainly the case for much of last year with Kansas State's Collin Klein, who had decent numbers before he separated his shoulder, but not otherworldly ones.
With Ash, there's the chance to marry the two concepts. He probably won't put up the kinds of numbers that Johnny Manziel did a year ago, or that Tim Tebow did in winning the Heisman his sophomore year. But while neither of those players captained his team to a BCS game, Ash has the potential to do just that, while also putting up the kind of numbers that make voters smile.
Watch lists can be silly, if for no other reason than the fact that players can often come out of nowhere to win awards (like Manziel did last year). But at the same time, they're a positive indicator that potential voters are aware of your talents and the potential for you to have a big year. If Ash, and Texas, have oversize seasons in 2013, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him make a semifinalist list, or a finalist one, with somewhat of a shot to take home some hardware.