As we head into November, the landscape for the college football postseason awards is starting to take shape.
The semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation's best defensive players have been announced, with 16 of the nation's finest making the cut.
Widely considered the strongest conference, the SEC leads all other conferences with eight semifinalists for the Bednarik Award. Not surprisingly, the SEC also dominates this list.
With that being said, here are the top five candidates to win the Bednarik Award.
5. C.J. Mosley
One of the defensive leaders of the nation's number one ranked team, C.J. Mosley comes in at number five on this list.
The Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker has had an exceptional season, leading the Tide in tackles in 2012. The next closer player has 29 less than him.
Mosley has a chance to lead the Tide to a perfect 14-0 record and a third national championship in four years, which would also help his candidacy for the Bednarik Award.
Texas A&M defensive lineman Damontre Moore has been the unquestioned leader of the Aggie defense in 2012.
Moore has accounted for 65 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2012 while wrecking havoc on SEC offenses.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has established himself as one of the most talented players in the nation with his performance in 2012.
Clowney has 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. His most impressive game came against the Georgia Bulldogs when Clowney had two tackles for loss and a sack while pressuring Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray all night.
Only a true sophomore, Clowney could follow up a potential 2012 Bednarik Award win with a Heisman in 2013.
2. Jarvis Jones
Though he has been hampered by injuries in 2012, Georiga linebacker Jarvis Jones has been arguably the best defensive player this season.
Jones has had a great all around year, recording 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in just six games.
His most notable games are definitely the Dawgs' contests against Missouri and Florida. Jones recorded two TFL, two sacks, and one interception against the Tigers, while against the Gators he had four and a half TFL, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
If Jones leads the Georgia defense to an SEC Championship, he could not only win the Bednarik Award but get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
1. Manti Te'o
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o not only has been the best defensive player this season but quite possibly the best player on either side of the ball.
Te'o has led the Fighting Irish to an 8-0 record in 2012 while recording 80 tackles and five interceptions.
Barring a November slump, Te'o should take home the Bednarik Award and possibly the Heisman as well.
Joey Hnath has been covering college football since 2011.
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