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Bednarik Award Rankings: Mathieu, Ingram, Kuechly, Te'o and More

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The Bednarik Award is presented by the Maxwell Football Club and given to the College Defensive Player of the Year. Like the Maxwell Award honoring the nation’s top college player, the Bednarik Award is voted on by sportscasters, sportswriters, NCAA head coaches, athletic administrators and also the membership of the Maxwell Football Club.

You can vote for the Maxwell Award, the Bednarik Award, the new NFL Fantasy Player of the Year Award, and other prominent awards presented by the oldest football club in America by obtaining a RotoExperts Maxwell Football Club membership.

All to often the skill position players on the offensive side of the ball get the notoriety and fame. More often than not however, games are won are won and lost on defense. Taking a look at the standout defenders in NCAA Football, here’s how the landscape for the College Defensive Player of the Year shakes out after six weeks of play.

1 – Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU Tigers: Mathieu was one of three Tigers suspended for the Auburn game, a game which LSU won 45-10. Mathieu will be off again this week before heading to Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide…assuming that he’s back from suspension. – Danny Hobrock

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2 – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina Gamecocks: Ingram is an athletic end who began his football career as a linebacker. In pass coverage he can move inside, which has made him a dangerous linemen against opposing quarterbacks. Ingram has 19 solo tackles (31 TT), 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, two pass break ups, and three hurries. Through six games, he has scored three touchdowns – two on fumble returns and one on a fake punt running 68 yards for the score. Ingram is producing more and more as the season continues and is a major contributor to South Carolina’s defensive success. - Dory LeBlanc

3 – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College Eagles: Kuechly leads the nation in tackles with 118 on the year—18 more than Tulane linebacker Trent Mackey, who’s listed ‘In the hunt’ below. Since his freshman year in 2009 Kuechly has been one of the most productive players in the country and has grown into the leader of the Eagles defense. Don’t be surprised if he takes the defensive spotlight from Mathieu before the season’s over. – Danny Hobrock

4 – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Te’o is one of those players who’s always fun to watch. He’s the beating heart of the Irish defense and he’s recorded double-digit tackles in five games so far this year. He even has 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks to boot. – Danny Hobrock

5 – Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide: Playing on a defense that is one of the best in the country and standing out isn’t easy. Fortunately for Hightower, he has the physical prowess at 6’4” 260 Lbs and is a fierce competitor, and standing out is what he does. He has 47 total tackles (24 solo, six for losses), 1.5 sacks, two passes broken up, and five quarterback hurries. Hightower is a large, powerful linebacker who is a solid tackler and a big playmaker - Dory LeBlanc

In the hunt

  • Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma Sooners
  • Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois Fighting Irish
  • Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Trent Mackey, LB, Tulane Golden Hurricane
  • Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall Thundering Herd
  • Sean Spence, LB, Miami Hurricanes
  • David Amerson, CB, NC State Wolfpack
  • Sammy Brown, LB, Houston Cougars
  • Brett Roy, Nevada Wolf Pack