Three Tigers on Bednarik Award Watch List

by Bill Martin (@LSUBillMartin)
Three Tigers on Bednarik Award Watch List

BATON ROUGE — Three LSU football players – cornerback Morris Claiborne, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Ryan Baker – are on the watch list for the 2011 Bednarik Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top college defensive player. 

The Tigers ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with three players on the list of 65 that was released by the Maxwell Football Club.

The College Defensive Player of the Year Award is named in honor of Chuck Bednarik, College and Pro Football Hall of Famer. Voters for the award include NCAA head coaches, members of the Maxwell Football Club and sportswriters and sportscasters from across the country.

LSU produced its first Bednarik Award winner last season when junior cornerback Patrick Peterson took home the honor at the ESPN College Football Awards in December.

Claiborne, a native of Shreveport, heads into his junior season as a preseason All-America cornerback selection by some publications. A year ago, he led the Tigers and ranked third in the SEC with five interceptions while adding 37 tackles and six pass breakups. Claiborne started 12 games as a sophomore.

Mathieu shined as true freshman in the Tigers’ talented secondary, playing in all 13 games and ranking fourth on the squad in tackles with 57. He contributed 8.5 tackles for loss and added 4.5 sacks to go along with two interceptions and a team-high seven pass breakups. His five forced fumbles was tops in the SEC a year ago.

Mathieu was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the 2011 Cotton Bowl when he forced two fumbles, collected an interception and seven tackles in the 42-24 win over Texas A&M. He is one of only two sophomores who made the watch list. Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes is the other. 

Baker ranked second on the team and 13th in the SEC with 87 total tackles, including 11 tackles for loss. He led the squad in sacks with seven while starting 12 games at will linebacker, a position he will once again man in 2011. In 37 career games, the senior has tallied 120 tackles.

All three players played a key role in a Tiger defense that ranked in the top 10 in four defensive categories during the 2010 season.

Bednarik Award Watch List
Ray Ray Armstong, Jr., S, Miami
Ryan Baker, Jr., LB, LSU
Mark Barron, Sr., S, Alabama
Jake Bequette, Sr., DE, Arkansas
Brandon Boykin, Sr., CB, Georgia
Nigel Bradham, Sr., LB, Florida State
Tanner Brock, Jr., LB, TCU
Vince Browne, Sr., DE, Northwestern
Vontaze Burfict, Jr., LB, Arizona State
Tank Carder, Sr., LB, TCU
Morris Claiborne, Jr., CB, LSU
Quinton Coples, Sr., DT, North Carolina
Jared Crick, Sr., DT, Nebraska
Vinny Curry, Sr., DE, Marshall
Lavonte David, Sr., LB, Nebraska
Alfonzo Dennard, Sr., CB, Nebraska
Tony Dye, Sr., S, UCLA
Donnie Fletcher, Sr., CB, Boston College
Jerry Franklin, Sr., LB, Arkansas
Stephon Gilmore, Jr., CB, South Carolina
Zaviar Gooden, Jr., LB, Missouri
Casey Hayward, Sr., CB, Vanderbilt
Dont’a Hightower, Jr., LB, Alabama
Jayron Hosley, Jr., CB, Virginia Tech
Jaye Howard, Jr. DT, Florida
Delano Howell, Sr., S, Stanford
Bruce Irvin, Jr., DE, West Virginia
Brandon Jenkins, Jr., DE, Florida State
Coryell Judie, Sr., CB, Texas A&M
Mychal Kendricks, Sr., LB, Cal
Dre Kirkpatrick, Jr., CB, Alabama
Jake Knott, Jr., LB, Iowa State
Luke Kuechly, Jr., LB, Boston College
Robert Lester, Jr., S, Alabama
Travis Lewis, Sr., LB, Oklahoma
Brandon Lindsey, Sr., DE, Pitt
Mike Martin, Sr., DT, Michigan
Chris Marve, Sr., LB, Vanderbilt
Jonathan Massaqoui, Jr., DE, Troy
Tyrann Mathieu, Soph., CB, LSU
T.J. McDonald, Jr., S, USC
Chase Minnifield, Sr., CB, Virginia
Roosevelt Nix, Soph., DT, Kent State
Donte Paige-Moss, Jr., DE, North Carolina
Shaun Prater, Sr., CB, Iowa
Kheeston Randall, Sr., DT, Texas
Kevin Reddick, Jr., LB, North Carolina
Greg Reid, Jr., CB, Florida State
Kendall Reyes, Sr., DT, Connecticut
Xavier Rhodes, Soph., CB, Florida State
Keenan Robinson, Sr., LB, Texas
Shayne Skov, Jr., LB, Stanford
Sean Spence, Sr., LB, Miami
Alameda Ta’amu, Sr. DT, Washington
Keith Tandy, Sr., CB, West Virginia
Kenny Tate, Sr., S, Maryland
Bruce Taylor, Jr., LB, Virginia Tech
Devin Taylor, Jr., DE, South Carolina
Manti Te’o, Jr., LB, Notre Dame
Danny Trevathan, Sr., LB, Kentucky
Courtney Upshaw, Sr., LB, Alabama
Prentiss Waggner, Jr., S, Tennessee
Korey Williams, Sr., LB, Southern Miss
Billy Winn, Sr., DT, Boise State
Jerel Worthy, Sr., DT, Michigan State