Who will be the best defender in the country for the 2012 season? We don’t know the answer to that just yet, but there’s a good bet it’ll be a player on the following list.
On Monday, the Maxwell Football Club announced the watch list for the Bednarik Award given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.
It’s probably no surprise the SEC led the way the 15 players on the list, followed by the Big Ten with 14 while the Big 12 had 11. The ACC and Pac-12 had 10 and nine players on the list, respectively.
The two opponents in last year’s BCS national championship, Alabama and LSU, led the way each having four defenders named to the list. Michigan State was the only other school to have four players make the first cut.
If you’re looking for the favorites to win the award, you can probably start with LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu who won the award in 2011 and is trying to become only the third player to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o all were semifinalists for the award in 2011, as well.
The list also includes two sophomores, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and USC linebacker Dion Bailey. All of the other 63 players on the list are either juniors or seniors.
The watch list will be updated periodically throughout the season as players play their way into and out of consideration, but here’s a look at the full list of players as it stands now.