The watch list for the Bednarik award was announced earlier today. The award, named for Chuck Bednarik, has been given out annually to the nation’s best defensive player, as decided by the Maxwell football club, since 1995.
Junior Linebacker A.J. Johnson and senior defensive tackle Daniel McCullers were both named to the watch list for the award.
Johnson, who was named to the Butkus award pre-season watch list last season, led the SEC in tackles last season with 138. That total was good enough for fourth overall in the NCAA.
McCullers, one of the biggest players in college football, is a junior college transfer that made his debut with the Vols last season. The senior played in every game for Tennessee in 2012, starting seven. He finished the season with 39 tackles, including one sack and 5.5 tackles for loss.
The list will be narrowed down on October 29, with the announcement of the semi-finalists. The three finalists for the award will be announced on November 25. The winner will then be announced on December 12 at the annual college football awards show.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o won the award in 2012.
Tennessee has never had a Bednarik award winner.
In fact only three SEC players have ever won the award. Georgia’s David Pollack won the award in 2004, while LSU had back-to-back winners recently, with Patrick Peterson winning in 2010 and Tyrann Mathieu winning in 2011.
Penn State has had the most players win the award with four.
Check out the full list here.
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