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Virginia football’s Smoke Mizzell named to Biletnikoff Award watch list

Only running back among 53 preseason honorees

Notre Dame v Virginia Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s watch list season for college football fans, and the Tallahassee Quarterback Club announced its list of 53 receivers on the preseason watch list for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award. Among those 53: UVA’s own Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell.

As that tweet points out, Mizzell is a running back. The Biletnikoff Award is for receivers. What gives?

Here’s the official description of the award, from

The Biletnikoff Award is presented annually to the season’s outstanding college football receiver regardless of position (the award defines receiver as any player who catches a pass hence, tight ends, slot receivers and backs, inside receivers, wide receivers, split ends, and running backs are eligible).

Their emphasis, but it helps the point.

Of the 52 players on the preseason list, Mizzell is the only one who is not listed as a wide receiver on his team’s website. (Akron’s Jerome Lane is listed as a linebacker on the 2015 roster, but he started 11 games at wide receiver for the Zips last year.)

From the official announcement by the athletics department.

[Mizzell] broke the ACC record for receiving yards by a running back with 721 in 2015. Mizzell finished 29 yards short of becoming the first FBS player since 2006 to record 700 receiving and 700 rushing yards in the same season. Mizzell is one of only five Cavaliers to ever record at least 1,000 career rushing and 1,000 career receiving yards. His 75 receptions in 2015 rank No. 2 all-time at UVA for catches in a season and No. 2 all-time for receptions in the ACC by a running back.

This is a pretty cool honor for Smoke, being nationally recognized as a multi-purpose offensive weapon. We’ll see where things stand as the list gets pared down over the season, and Mizzell finds his role in the new Cavaliers offense.