AUBURN, Ala. Defensive lineman Carl Lawson and safety Rudy Ford are among the many early contenders for college football’s defensive player of the year award.
The preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, named after the Hall of Famer out of Penn, was announced Tuesday.
Alabama has the most representatives — Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson and Tim Williams — from a single team on a list that also includes two 2015 semifinalists (Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, LSU’s Kendall Beckwith).
Last year, Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich won the award.
This year’s semifinalists will be announced Oct. 31 with three finalists to be released on Nov. 21 and winner revealed on Dec. 8. The voting body for the award is made up of colleges, sportswriters and sportscasters from around the country.
The annual honors have gone out to the country’s top defender since 1995, but no Auburn player has taken the trophy home.
Lawson’s presence on the list of 90 names isn’t much of a surprise. The junior lineman made the preseason watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award and Rotary Lombardi Award before last season.
A hip injury early in the first half of the season-opener against Louisville put Lawson on the shelf for two months. Lawson missed his entire sophomore season recovering from a torn ACL.
Lawson finished the season with 17 tackles, five solo, with a sack and three tackles for losses in seven games.
During spring practice, the defensive lineman admitted he wasn’t 100 percent until after the season. One of his goals coming back to Auburn for another season was to prove his injuries woes are behind him.
Ford makes the list having led Auburn in tackles the past two seasons.
The safety’s 118 tackles as a junior were the most for an Auburn defender since 2001. He had six double-digit tackle games and a pair of interceptions including a memorable one against Idaho he returned for a touchdown.
The Big Cove alum out of Alabama thought about leaving early for the NFL Draft, but came to the same decision as Lawson.
“I really wanted to graduate and focus on coming back and spend the last year with the boys I came in with: Carl Lawson, Montravius, Jeremy Johnson, Marcus Davis,” Ford said during the spring. “We've got things that we haven't accomplished yet so we want to accomplish something special as a senior class.”
The Maxwell Award preseason watch list was also announced Tuesday, but Auburn didn’t have any player make the initial cut. Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won college football’s player of the year award back in 2010.
Watch list schedule
- Tues., July 5: Bednarik Award / Maxwell Award
- Wed., July 6: Mackey Award / Rimington Trophy
- Thurs., July 7: Lou Groza Award / Ray Guy Award
- Fri., July 8: Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Outland Trophy
- Mon., July 11: Jim Thorpe Award
- Tues., July 12: Butkus Award / Rotary Lombardi Award
- Wed., July 13: Biletnikoff Award / Wuerffel Trophy
- Thurs, July 14: Davey O’Brien Award / Doak Walker Award
- Fri., July 15: Walter Camp Award / Paul Hornung Award