Earlier on Tuesday Dayne Crist and Michael Floyd were named to the Maxwell Award watch list and now a third Notre Dame player, Manti Te’o, was named to the Bednarik Award watch list heading into his junior season.
The Bednarik Award is given annually to the best defensive player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club, the same organization that hands out the Maxwell Award each year, Te’o is just one of three semi-finalists from a year ago to make this year’s watch list joining Florida State’s Brandon Jenkins and Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
Last season Te’o emerged as the playmaker everyone thought he would be when he signed with Notre Dame following the 2008 season. The Hawaiian native paced the Irish with 133 tackles – 9.5 of which went for a loss. The 133 tackles Te’o amassed through the season were good enough for 12th in the country. Twenty-one of those tackles came against Stanford when Te’o tried to single handily keep the Irish in the game in the third quarter with a series of big hits and stops before the Cardinal pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Heading into his junior season in 2011, many expect Te’o to take the leap from very good player to elite player now that he will have some familiarity going into his second year in Bob Diaco’s defense. Last season Te’o earned 2nd team All-American honors from Sports Illustrated and was named a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award as one of the nation’s top linebackers. Accolades like those should continue to pour in for Notre Dame’s most exciting linebacker in years.
The Bednarik Award was introduced in 1995 and in that time no Notre Dame player has won the award.
Notre Dame will face 9 players on the Bednarik watch list from 7 opponents in 2011:
- Boston College – Donnie Fletcher (CB), Luke Kuechly (LB)
- Stanford – Delano Howell (S), Shayne Skov (LB)
- Pittsburgh – Brandon Lindsey (DE)
- Michigan – Mike Martin (DT)
- USC – TJ McDonald (S)
- Maryland – Kenny Tate (S)
- Michigan State – Jezel Worthy (DT)
A total of 65 players are on this year’s watch list for the Bednarik Award which can be viewed on the Maxwell Football Club’s website