MADISON, Wis. -- Where better to begin with the announcement of major award watch lists than the one for the player that begins with the ball on every snap.
Wisconsin sophomore Dan Voltz was named Monday to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding center in college football. Voltz is one of just five underclassmen among the 64 players named to the watch list, which includes players from 10 of the 14 Big Ten programs.
Voltz made his Badgers debut as a redshirt freshman in 2013, playing in 11 games and making six starts at center after being slowed by injury early in the season.
The Barrington, Illinois, native helped pave the way for a record-setting season by the Wisconsin offense, which set the school mark for total offense (480.8 yards per game) and the third-best mark for scoring offense (34.8 points per game) in UW history. The Badgers also posted the second-best rushing mark in school history (283.8 yards per game) and set a program record for per-carry rushing average (6.62 yards per attempt).
Running behind Voltz and the Badgers’ O-line, running backs James White and Melvin Gordon broke the NCAA single-season record for rushing yards by teammates with a combined 3,053 yards and became the first teammates in history to each rush for 1,400 yards in a season.
Voltz is the fourth Badgers center in the last six seasons to be named a preseason candidate for the Rimington Trophy, joining John Moffitt, Peter Konz and Travis Frederick. All three of his predecessors went on to become NFL draft picks.
Al Johnson, who achieved the distinction in 2002, is the Badgers’ lone Rimington Trophy finalist.
Dave Rimington, the award's namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the Outland Trophy's only double winner as the nation's finest college interior lineman.
The Rimington Trophy committee is voted on by the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Foundation, the Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America. The winner will be recognized at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Jan. 17, 2015.