It's been quite a depressing few weeks for Penn State football, after a blowout loss to Northwestern on homecoming, and an ugly loss to Michigan under the lights in the B1G House. The team finally received at least a shred of good news though, as Jesse James has been named to the mid-season watch list with the John Mackey Award.
The John Mackey Award is given out each year to the country's best tight end. It's an award that Penn State fans have become accustomed to hearing about since Bill O'Brien infused the New England style approach into the offense by using the blocker/receiver hybrids as focal points of the attack. At the season's start, both James and Kyle Carter appeared on the watch list. Carter hasn't made much of an impact this season however, and has been quite limited in his role since his breakout season of 2012.
James has put together a respectable season thus far. While the tight ends have often been asked to block more than they were surely expecting to thanks to the struggles of the offensive line, James has still been able to catch 18 passes for a total of 203 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense figures to continue to feature him, as his ability to use his elite size to get open in the middle of the field will continue to be an important skill as Penn State wades deeper into their Big Ten schedule.
It hasn't quite been the season that many of us were expecting thus far for James, but he's done enough to keep himself in contention for a national award. If he sees any sort of bump in his production, he could even find himself trending upwards when the list of finalists is named.