The ‘Noles fielded the top defense in the country last season, an important factor in capturing their third national championship. The defense could be even better this year, and two of the most important contributors have earned spots on the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List, presented annually to college football’s defensive player of the year.
The list, consisting of 76 defensive players, features a couple of FSU juniors: defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. and cornerback P.J. Williams. Each of these players has a decent shot at taking home the hardware. Edwards is coming off a breakout campaign, at the end of which he dominated Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, the second player taken in April’s NFL Draft, in the BCS title game . Edwards’ success this season will depend heavily on the performance of the relatively inexperienced defensive line starting with him, including the other DE, which will probably be Chris Casher. If they’re a threat, offensive coordinators will not be able to allocate as many resources to impeding Edwards.
Williams’ challenge in securing the trophy will be quite the opposite. He’ll play as a part of what will probably be the country’s top secondary, including fellow shutdown corner Ronald Darby (who probably should have made the list as well) and impressive sophomore Jalen Ramsey. His challenge is going to be standing out among such impressive company. The award is also rarely given to defensive backs.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald took home the award after last season. Presented since 1993, the Bednarik Award has — somehow — never been given to a Seminole.