Sam Darnold, Cameron Smith named semifinalists for national awards

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC quarterback Sam Darnold and linebacker Cameron Smith were named semifinalists for the Maxwell Award and Butkus Award respectively.

As November approaches, the time for national awards to whittle down their list of semifinalists has come. Two Trojans made the cut in the first round of list trimming for the Maxwell and Butkus Awards on Monday.

Quarterback Sam Darnold is one of 18 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the collegiate Player of the Year.

The Trojan quarterback has struggled at times in 2017, but he has still led his team to a 7-2 record while throwing for 2558 yards and 20 touchdowns. His passing scores rank him 11th nationally.

Darnold is one of four Pac-12 players recognized among the semifinalists, along with Stanford’s Bryce Love, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Arizona’s Khalil Tate, who USC will battle this weekend.

USC has not had a Maxwell Award winner since Marcus Allen in 1981. Charles White and O.J. Simpson also claimed the trophy in 1979 and 1968 respectively. Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush were finalists most recently.

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On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Cameron Smith got the nod as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given out to the nation’s best linebacker each year. He is one of fifteen linebackers recognized and the only defender to represent the Pac-12.

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Smith sat out the first half of the season opener against Western Michigan because of a suspension stemming back to the Rose Bowl, but he has been a consistent force for the Trojans since then.

He leads the Trojans with 79 tackles this year, along with eight tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception. He posted a season-high 16 tackles in an impressive display against Utah.

If Smith advances on to win the trophy, he would become just the second Trojan honored after Chris Claiborne in 1998.

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Finalists for both the Maxwell and Butkus Awards will be announced on Nov. 20.