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July 30, 2003

Park Ridge, IL – Seven of the 11 starting quarterbacks in the Big Ten were honored this week by being named to the pre-season watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is awarded annually to the top signal caller in the nation. The Big Ten’s seven nominees topped all conferences, as the ACC and Big 12 ranked second with five pre-season honorees.

The Big Ten’s pre-season candidates for the O’Brien Award are Illinois’ Jon Beutjer, Indiana’s Matt LoVecchio, Michigan’s John Navarre, Minnesota’s Asad Abdul-Khaliq, Ohio State’s Craig Krenzel, Penn State’s Zack Mills and Purdue’s Kyle Orton. Three former League quarterbacks have been honored with the O’Brien Award, including the most recent winner in Iowa’s Brad Banks, the 2002 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year who finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Other Big Ten honorees include the Hawkeyes’ Chuck Long (1985) and Penn State’s Kerry Collins (1994).

Semifinalists for the O’Brien Award will be announced in early November and narrowed to three finalists later in that month by the O’Brien National Advisory Committee. The 2003 winner will be announced December 11 on the ESPN College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla.

The 108th season of Big Ten football kicks off on August 30 with 10 of the 11 League teams taking the field for non-conference action.