Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman and sophomore linebacker Troy Dye are preseason national player of the year candidates, as announced Monday by the Maxwell Football Club. Freeman is on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award as national player of the year, awarded by the Pennsylvania-based Maxwell Football Club since 1937. UO quarterback Marcus Mariota was awarded the trophy following his junior season in 2014. Dye made the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year. The Maxwell Football Club has presented that award since 1995. Of the 85 players on the Bednarik watch list, just seven are sophomores, including Dye. Also a Maxwell Award candidate during his historic sophomore season in 2015, Freeman enters the 2017 campaign poised to become Oregon’s all-time career rushing leader. Freeman has 4,146 yards and 44 touchdowns on 703 career carries; LaMichael James rushed for a UO-record 5,082 yards during his three seasons from 2009-11. Freeman set Oregon’s single-season rushing record with 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2015. His junior season was marred by injuries and Freeman rushed for 945 yards, a factor in his decision to remain in school and play for new UO head coach Willie Taggart in 2017. The Ducks open the upcoming season against Southern Utah in Autzen Stadium on Sept. 2, a 5:15 p.m. PT kickoff to be televised by the Pac-12 Network.