Apr 12, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) dances on the field after the spring game at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Vols LB A.J. Johnson Named To Bednarik Award Watch List

Tennessee Volunteers middle linebacker A.J. Johnson was one of 76 players named to the Bednarik Award watch list on Monday.

Johnson is a rising senior that decided to stick around for another season under Butch Jones, instead of declaring a year early for the NFL Draft.

The Florida native, who was also named a pre-season first team All-American by Phil Steele, has led the Vols in tackles the past two seasons.

If Johnson stays healthy this season he should finish second on the Vols’ all-time tackle list (He’d need well over 200 tackles to finish first).

The Bednarik award, which is named for former Pennsylvania linebacker Chuck Bednarik, has been awarded each year since 1995 to the top defensive player of the year, as decided by the Maxwell Football Club.

Only three SEC players have ever won the award (David Pollack in 2004, Patrick Peterson in 2010 and Tyrann Mathieu in 2011).

A.J. Johnson won’t be one of the favorites to win the award this year, but if he has another season like he’s been having, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up being a serious contender.

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