2021 Bednarik Award Watch List: Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux top names to watch

The offseason reaches peak levels of excitement when the days of July dwindle down, not just because the season is around the corner, but because the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list comes out. Giving fans a plethora of names to be mindful of as the season approaches, the award itself is given to the nation’s best defensive player in college football.

Past winners are an incredible mix of current Hall of Famers, soon-to-be Hall of Famers, and others who are likely on their way. It is the nation’s most prestigious award for the defensive side of the ball. It’s also incredibly indicative of future NFL success with such names as Chase Young, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Aaron Donald, Patrick Peterson, and Ndamukong Suh as past winners.

Awarded by the Maxwell Football Club, here is the 2021 preseason Bednarik Award watch list members!

2021 Preseason Bednarik Award Watch List

  • Will Anderson, LB, Alabama
  • Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
  • Demetrius Taylor, DE, Appalachian State
  • Shaun Jolly, CB, Appalachian State
  • Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
  • Grant Morgan, LB, Arkansas
  • Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas
  • Zakoby McClain, LB, Auburn
  • Jalen Pitre, DB, Baylor
  • James Patterson, LB, Buffalo
  • Cameron Goode, LB, Cal
  • Troy Hairston, DE, Central Michigan
  • Troy Brown, LB, Central Michigan
  • Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati
  • Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  • Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
  • Nolan Turner, S, Clemson
  • Jeffrey Gunter, DE, Coastal Carolina
  • Nate Landman, LB, Colorado
  • Scott Patchan, DE, Colorado State
  • Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut
  • Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
  • Amari Gainer, LB, Florida State
  • Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  • Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  • Derrick Canteen, CB, Georgia Southern
  • Darius Mausau, LB, Hawaii
  • Jake Hansen, LB, Illinois
  • Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana
  • Tiawan Mullen, CB, Indiana
  • Will McDonald, DE, Iowa State
  • Mike Rose, LB, Iowa State
  • Durrell Johnson, DE, Liberty
  • Bralen Trahan, S, Louisiana
  • Tyler Grubbs, LB, Louisiana Tech
  • Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  • Eli Ricks, CB, LSU
  • Quindell Johnson, S, Memphis
  • Bubba Bolden, S, Miami (Fl.)
  • Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
  • Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee
  • Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
  • Trajan Jeffcoat, DE, Missouri
  • Diego Fagot, LB, Navy
  • Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
  • Lawson Hall, LB, Nevada
  • Jeremiah Gemmel, LB, North Carolina
  • Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern
  • Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  • Haskell Garrett, DT, Ohio State
  • Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
  • Nik Bonitto, LB, Oklahoma
  • Isaiah Thomas, DE, Oklahoma
  • Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State
  • Kolby Harvell-Peel, S, Oklahoma State
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
  • Avery Roberts, LB, Oregon State
  • Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
  • Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
  • George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
  • Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers
  • Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State
  • Caden McDonald, LB, San Diego State
  • Cade Hall, DE, San Jose State
  • Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina
  • Ochaun Mathis, DE, TCU
  • Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
  • Keondre Coburn, DT, Texas
  • DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
  • Colin Schooler, LB, Texas Tech
  • Desjuan Johnson, DT, Toledo
  • Carlton Martial, LB, Troy
  • Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
  • Jaxon Player, DT, Tulsa
  • Kris Moll, LB, UAB
  • Drake Jackson, LB, USC
  • Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  • Justin Rice, LB, Utah State
  • Praise Amaewhule, DE, UTEP
  • Rashad Wisdom, S, UTSA
  • Anfernee Orji, LB, Vanderbilt
  • Edefuan Ulofoshio, LB, Washington
  • Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  • Dante Stills, DT, West Virginia
  • DeAngelo Malone, DE, Western Kentucky
  • Ralph Holley, DT, Western Michigan
  • Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin
  • Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

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Who is the Bednarik Award named after?

The Bednarik Award is given annually to the best defensive player of the year, annually presented by the Maxwell Football Club. It is, of course, named after former No. 1 overall pick in 1949 Chuck Bednarik. A two-time consensus All-American and Maxwell Award winner, Bednarik had an illustrious collegiate career prior to a dominant professional career.

The first player drafted in 1949, Bednarik was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles after he played both center and linebacker for the University of Pennsylvania. Just 20 years after his collegiate days were over, Bednarik was voted by a panel of writers, coaches, and Hall of Famers as the ‘greatest center of all time.’

Bednarik had just as great of a professional career as he was the last NFL player in history to play on both sides of the ball full-time. The award was established in 1995 and is voted on by members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA head coaches, sportswriters, and sportscasters around the country. It is given out during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show after the season.

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Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of NFL News/Analysis for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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