The Bednarik Award honors college football's national defensive player of the year. LSU was tied with Alabama and Michigan State with four selections on this year's watch list. Semifinalists for the award will be announced on Oct. 29 while the three finalists will be announced on Nov. 19. The winner will be announced on Dec. 6.
Only LSU, Northwestern and Penn State have produced back-to-back Bednarik Award winners. No other SEC school has more than one winner. Patrick Peterson won the award in 2010 and Tyrann Mathieu won it last season for the Tigers. Mathieu will try to become only the third back-to-back award winner. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Penn State's Paul Posluszny, both linebackers, were the other players to win two Bednarik Awards in a row. Despite the back-to-back wins by LSU cornerbacks, Charles Woodson was the only other defensive back to take home the award.
Mathieu will look to establish himself as a cover cornerback this season. For the first two seasons of his career, he has been a turnover creating machine with 14 (11 fumbles caused) total and an NCAA record 0.42 career forced fumbles per game. Montgomery and Mingo are both defensive ends who wreak havoc in the opposition's backfield. Mingo was third in the SEC with 15 tackles for loss in 2011 and he has 10.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries in his career. Montgomery had 13.5 tackles for loss last season and led the team with nine sacks. Eric Reid is a high impact safety for LSU who is also nominated for the Lott Trophy. Reid was tied with Mathieu for the team lead with 76 tackles last season and had two interceptions. His interception during the regular season against Alabama at the goal line was one of the top plays of the year for me.
Unfortunately for Mathieu if he wants to repeat, his defensive play will not likely be enough to get him the award. Even though it has nothing to do with the award, he'll probably need to have another outstanding season returning punts to put him over the linebackers and defensive ends who were nominated.
As an LSU fan, I can't wait for the 2012 college football season to start to see if these players can help the Tigers take home a third Bednarik Award in a row and play for a national title.
More from Patrick Johnston:
"Four football players on Bednarik Award Watch List", LSU Sports.net