Current Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson and LSU junior Tyrann Mathieu are the last two recipients of the Bednarik Award, awarded to the top defensive player in college football. Today four Tigers, including Mathieu, have been named to the watch list for the 2012 award, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday morning.
Mathieu, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Eric Reid will try to make it three years in a row for the LSU program.
Alabama and Michigan State also have four representatives on the list, the most in the nation. Today’s announcement kicked off the National College Football Awards Association’s 12-day releasing of individual awards for the upcoming season.
LSU, Northwestern, and Penn State are the only schools to produce back-to-back Bednarik Award winners. The Tiger program has produced more Bednarik Award recipients than any program in Southeastern Conference history.
Mathieu would become the third repeat winner in the award’s history, joining Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald and Penn State’s Paul Posluszny. A 2011 Heisman Trophy award finalist, Mathieu heads into his junior season having created a total of 14 turnovers during his career, a feat that has earned him the famous nickname “Honey Badger” because he “takes what he wants” from opponents. His 11 forced fumbles rank seventh in NCAA history and are just three shy of the career record. Mathieu currently owns the NCAA career record in forced fumbles per game with a 0.42 average.
Mathieu’s secondary mate Reid, also a candidate for the 2012 Lott Trophy, is perhaps the best safety in all of college football. The heady and hard-hitting Reid was a second-team All-American as a sophomore last year after tying for the team lead in total tackles with 76 and directing a defense that ranked second in the country. He has four career interceptions, including a Honey Badger-like rip job at the Alabama goal line that saved the day last year in Tuscaloosa.
Montgomery and Mingo, recently ranked in the top five college prospects by NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, may be the most fearsome defensive end duo in the country. Montgomery, a finalist for national defensive end of the year in 2011, has recorded 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in two seasons, despite a season-ending knee injury he suffered in October of his freshman year. Mingo holds a team-best 20.5 career tackles for loss to go along with 10.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced Oct. 29 and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled Nov. 19. The winners will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 6. The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala in Atlantic City on March 1, 2013.