Not surprisingly, a past winner of the latest award to release a watch list is the headliner for this honor.
The Bednarik Award Tuesday announced its 2015 preseason watch list, which this year consists of 78 defensive players from eight of the 10 FBS conferences (Conference USA and the Sun Belt the lone exclusion). Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright won the 2014 version of the award and, as he returned to the Wildcats for his senior season, makes the initial cut.
In addition to Wright, five semifinalists from last year are on this year’s watch list: Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman and Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee each placed three on the watch list. There were two players each from Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Boise State. Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah State, USC, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
As was the case with the Maxwell Award watch list, the SEC led all conferences with 18 selections, followed by the ACC (13), Big Ten and Pac-12 (12 apiece) and the Big 12 (11). The most for a Group of Five conference was the mountain West’s four.