College Football Analysis: 2011 Bednarik Award Player Rankings

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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 nine weeks of play.

On November 21st, Maxwell Football Club President, Ron Jaworski, announced the 2011 finalists for the 17th Chuck Bednarik Award for the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. The finalists are Alabama Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower, LSU Sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, and Penn State Senior defensive tackle Devon Still. Here’s how we see them finishing.

1. Tyrann Mathieu, CB LSU

Haven’t heard a whole lot from Honey Badger lately, but he continues to accumulate tackles and he’s an integral part of the Tigers defense that ranks second in the country in total, scoring, and pass efficiency defense, and fourth and fifth in rushing and pass defense, respectively. The Tigers lead the country in turnover margin, and Mathieu is one of several players with two picks. He’s also second on the team with 58 tackles. – Danny Hobrock

2. Dont’a Hightower, LB Alabama

The 6’4” 260 Lb linebacker should be a sure-bet in the NFL, and has been in our top list of candidates for most of the season. Hightower is a quick, hard tackler who reads plays beautifully. Against Mississippi State he recorded 11 tackles (4 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and one PBU in his best performance of the season. Through ten games, Hightower has registered a total of 65 total tackles (32 solo), 1 INT, 8.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 3 PBU, and 7 QB hurries. – Dory LeBlanc

3. Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois

Although the 6’5” 310 Lbs Still never cracked our top ten, he leads the Big Ten in solo tackles for loss at 15. Still has been the anchor of the Penn State defense, which ranks third in the nation in scoring (13.0 points per game), eighth in total defense (287.4 yards per game), sixth in pass defense (160.0) and fourth in pass efficiency defense. On the year, he has 53 tackles (28 solo), 16.5 total TFL, 4. Sacks, 1 PBU, and 1 forced fumble. – Dory LeBlanc