Ahead of a season filled with potential and in need of a rebound, Virginia Tech has a player on each side of the ball it hopes will lead a turnaround after last year's disappointing campaign.
On Monday, quarterback Logan Thomas and defensive end James Gayle were named to the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award watch lists, respectively.
Presented by the Maxwell Football Club, the awards honor the national college player of the year (Maxwell) and defensive player of the year (Bednarik).
Awarded each year since 1937, the Maxwell Award is named for Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, and has been won by quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Vince Young, and Andrew Luck.
Founded in 1995 to honor feared former Penn State linebacker Chuck Bednarik, the Bednarik Award was taken home last season by Notre Dame's Mantei Te'o, and has also been won by Ndamukong Suh, Dan Connor, and LaVar Arrington.
For Thomas, the recognition is a reminder of the vast potential the rising senior possess -- and has yet to fully reach.
Already a two-year starter, the highly recruited Lynchburg, Va. product has put up a pair of up-and-down seasons so far, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a sophomore before regressing to the tune of 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year as a junior.
His completion percentage also fell from 59.8% to 51.3%.
Virginia Tech's fortunes flagged with Thomas' last season, as the Hokies finished 7-6, their worst record since 1992.
Gayle was among the bright spots last year, as he emerged to anchor Tech's defensive line, capably rushing the passer and defending the run from his defensive end position.
During his junior season he racked up 43 tackles, including 11 for a loss, to go with five sacks and 27 quarterback hurries.
His impact was felt greatest against North Carolina, as he tallied seven tackles, with 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Neither award has ever been won by a Virginia Tech player.