Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion before the season was included on watch lists for a few prominent national awards — the Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Wuerffel Trophy.
The Davey O’Brien Award, which is presented annually to the best college quarterback in the nation, was not one of them.
But nine games into the season and ranked in the top 10 nationally in completion percentage and passing efficiency rating, the senior from Dinuba on Wednesday was selected as one of 16 semifinalists for the award by the Davey O’Brien Foundation.
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Utah State quarterback Josh Love also is a semifinalist for the award, along with Mason Fine (North Texas), D’ Eriq King (Houston) and McKenzie Milton (UCF) from Group of Five conferences.
McMaryion, who on Friday will lead the No. 16 Bulldogs (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West) into a crucial conference matchup at Boise State, has taken oversized forward steps this season and made the Bulldogs offense much more dynamic than it was during a 10-4 season in 2017.
“We were just taking about it last week when we played UNLV,” offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer said. “We looked at that film and you could just see how far we’ve come as a program, as an offense, but then just even the comments that (coach Jeff Tedford) and I were making about Marcus being so much more just polished.
“Polished with his reads, polished in how decisive he is and then on time with the throws. Then the accuracy, too. All of that together is why he’s having the year he’s having.”
The Fresno State quarterback is completing 70.9 percent of his passes, third best in the nation and up from 62.1 last season. He has a passing efficiency rating of 165.44, ninth best in the nation and up from 137.65 a year ago.
McMaryion has completed 67.6 percent of his passes on third down, up from 41.4. He has completed 72.1 percent of his passes in the red zone, up from 47.2.
As a result, the Bulldogs are second in the Mountain West in scoring offense, averaging 40.4 points per game. Last season, they were eighth at 27.1 points per game.
McMaryion also is a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Wuerffel awards.
The Davey O’Brien semifinalists include four seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and one freshman. Players from eight conferences (ACC, American, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pac-12 and SEC) and one independent are on the list.
A fan vote, which counts for 5 percent during each round of voting for the award, resumes Nov. 7 at daveyobrienaward.org and runs through Nov. 18. Three finalists will be selected Nov. 19 and the winner will be announced during The Home Depot College Football Awards show Dec. 6.
Davey O’Brien Award semifinalists
Ian Book, Notre Dame, Jr.
Mason Fine, North Texas, Jr.
Ryan Finley, North Carolina State, Sr.
Jake Fromm, Georgia, Soph.
Will Grier, West Virginia, Sr.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State, Soph.
Justin Herbert, Oregon, Jr.
D’Eriq King, Houston, Jr.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Fr.
Jordan Love, Utah State, Soph.
Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State, Sr.
McKenzie Milton, UCF, Jr.
Gardner Minshew, Washington State, Sr.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, Jr.
Shea Patterson, Michigan, Jr.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, Soph.