The Maxwell Football Club released the Maxwell Award watch list for 2013 and to no surprise the SEC was well represented with 16 players making the cut. Also on Monday the club released the watch list for the Bednarik Award given to the nation’s top defender since 1995 when Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald won the first two years.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was the headliner of the 16 selected from the SEC after his 13 sack season last year as a sophomore. Clowney is also on the Maxwell list and a preseason contender for the Heisman trophy.
LSU tied for the lead with three players on the list with Craig Loston, Lamin Borrow and Anthony Johnson representing the reloaded Tigers defense after losing a host of starters to the NFL. Alabama also placed three defenders to the list as C.J. Mosley, Deion Belue and HaHa Clinton-Dix.
Florida and Tennessee had two nominees make the cut as Gators defensive lineman Dominique Easley and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy were joined by Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson and massive defensive tackle Daniel McCullers.
Rounding out the list are cornerbacks Andre Hal and E.J. Gaines from Vanderbilt and Missouri, respectively. Defensive linemen Dee Ford, who is coming off a six-sack season with Auburn, and Chris Smith, who led Arkansas with 9.5 sacks, are also included. Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney was the Bulldogs’ representative in what promises to be a breakout year for the former All-SEC freshman.
Don’t worry that your favorite defender from Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss or Texas A&M did not make the initial list as players can be added during the first few weeks of the upcoming season. Conversely, players can be removed from the list if they do not live up to the expectations placed upon them.
The SEC has claimed the award three times and has won two of the last three when LSU defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson won in 2011 and 2010, respectively. David Pollack of Georgia is the third from the conference to win the award when he took home the hardware in 2004.
Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o captured the Bednarik and Maxwell Awards last season becoming the first to win both in the same year.
Clowney has just as great of a chance of pulling off the feat, and he is at least a shoe-in to win the Bednarik if healthy. He could eclipse the 20-sack plateau and could challenge Derrick Thomas’ record of 27 sacks in a season set in 1988 with Alabama.