Bednarik Award Semifinalist List: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kyle Hamilton top the list

The Bednarik Award Semifinalist list showcases just how deep the talent pool is on the defensive side of the ball in college football.

The 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award will be given out to one college football defensive player who exemplifies all the traits necessary to make an impact on the field. We have a much clearer picture as to who could win the award come December with the release of the Bednarik Award Semifinalist list.

The Maxwell Football Club released the initial semifinalist list on Monday, shrinking their watch list down to 15 athletes. The Bednarik Award is often referred to as the most prestigious defensive award a player can win, and it will come from this group:

Bednarik Award Semifinalist list

  • DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
  • DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
  • DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
  • DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
  • DE Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
  • DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
  • DE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
  • OLB Will Anderson, Alabama
  • OLB Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
  • LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
  • LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
  • LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
  • LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin
  • CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
  • CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
  • S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
  • S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

The Georgia Bulldogs are represented by two players but certainly could have had more with how their defense is playing. Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd are set to battle it out as the nation’s top linebackers but pay attention to Wyoming’s Chad Muma.

There is vindication here for Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner as well. At the beginning of the season, Gardner said he wanted to “be college football’s top cornerback,” and as just one of the two cornerbacks represented, he certainly is on his way.

November’s play will undoubtedly go a long way towards winning this year’s Bednarik Award. However, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux certainly has a leg up with his impact and prowess among college football fans and voters.

What is the Bednarik Award?

The Chuck Bednarik Award is annually presented to college football’s top defensive player. It is judged by the Maxwell Football Club and given out annually to the player who is the “best in the United States.” Named after Chuck Bednarik, it has been given out since 1995 when current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald won the award.

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Fitzgerald is also one of two players to win the award in back-to-back seasons. He won the award in 1996, and Penn State LB Paul Posluszny won the award in consecutive seasons from 2005 to 2006. Other former winners include Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, David Pollack, Ndamukong Suh, Patrick Peterson, Aaron Donald, and most recently, Zaven Collins.

When is the Bednarik Award given out?

Like the Maxwell Award, the Bednarik Award will be given out during the annual year-end college football awards show. The Home Depot College Football Awards show is set to air on ESPN on December 9 at 7 PM ET. The Bednarik Award will be just one of the many awards given out that evening, but undeniably one of the most prestigious.

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