TYLER - The 2017 football season officially began on Tuesday with the 12th annual East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon. It was a chance for players and coaches to get together and chat a little before the upcoming season.

It was also where the watch list for the 2017 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award was unveiled. There are 45 players on the watch list this year, coming from 10 conferences and playing 6 different positions.

Earl's son Christian talked about how much this award means to his father, saying "He always says if there was something like this in place, it would have driven him to work even harder and I think that's one of the reasons the award was created. I know my dad, he grabs his iPad in the fall and he sits down and he scrolls through the list and it gives him a lot more to pay attention to and it means a lot, his hometown, it means quite a bit to him."

Of the 45 players on the watch list, 4 have ties to East Texas.

Keke Coutee - Texas Tech wide receiver (from Lufkin)

Dylan Cantrell - Texas Tech wide receiver (from Whitehouse)

Parker Braun - Georgia Tech offensive lineman (from Hallsville)

Jeffery Wilson - North Texas running back (from Elkhart)

The list will be cut down to 16 semifinalists in Novemember, followed by a cut down to 5 finalists in December, and then a winner will be named at the award banquet in January.