Pair of Trojans named Maxwell semifinalists

Senior quarterback Matt Barkley and sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee were named as semifinalists for the 2012 Maxwell Award on Tuesday, Maxwell Club President Ron Jaworski announced.

The Maxwell Award, which is in its 76th season in existence, is given annually to the best football player in the country. Previous winners include Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Florida’s Tim Tebow, who won it twice. Other NFL quarterbacks, including Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning, took home the award while in college.

Barkley entered the 2012 regular season as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner but has slowly fallen out of contention following two upset losses. Even still, he has accumulated 2,266 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Lee, meanwhile, is currently second nationally in receiving yards with 1129 yards and also has 10 touchdowns on 76 receptions. He racked up a Pac-12 record 345 yards to go along with two touchdowns in USC’s 39-36 loss to Arizona.

Barkley and Lee are one of two teammate combos in the semifinalist group, which consists of 16 players. The other duo is Oregon running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin also makes an appearance, giving the Pac-12 five players in the running for the award.

Current Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein highlights the list as the quarterback for the undefeated Kansas State, ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Three finalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced on Nov. 19,  and a final winner is set to be crowned on ESPN on Dec. 6.