The Bednarik Award is given out to the “Outstanding Collegiate Defensive Player of the Year” Here’s a preview on every Bednarik Watch List candidate from the Big 12. A look into who they were last season, and who they can potentially be this season.
ACC - http://www.takingbadschotz.com/?p=8273
Big East - http://www.takingbadschotz.com/?p=8312
Big 10- http://www.takingbadschotz.com/?p=8354
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LB A.J. Klein (Senior, Iowa State)
After his 116 tackles on the season, Klein was named Big 12 Conference Co-defensive Player of the Year. Klein had five games of ten or more tackles, and set a career-high of 15 tackles in a game. Not only does Klein have great awareness, tackling everything in sight, but he also plays with an incredible intensity, leaving everything on the field.
LB Jake Knott (Senior, Iowa State)
Like Klein, Knott plays off his instincts along with his sharp awareness. Knott finished with 115 tackles, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions. With Klein and Knott back for another season the Cyclones will have a fearful defense in an offensively loaded conference.
LB Arthur Brown (Senior, Kansas Sate)
Brown emerged onto the scene with his 101 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. As he led Kansas State defensively, the linebacker was named a Bednarik Semifinalist. Brown is very athletic with great tackling ability; the Wildcat always finds a way into every play.
CB Nigel Malone (Senior, Kansas State)
Malone turned heads with his junior campaign of 58 tackles, 10 passes defended, and seven interceptions. Although Malone isn’t a big corner he is very physical and uses the most of his explosive speed. Brown and Malone will make for another dangerous defensive duo in the Big 12.
CB Demontre Hurst (Senior, Oklahoma)
Hurst enters his third season as starting corner, coming off a career best season of 55 tackles, four tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups, one interception, one touchdown, and two fumble recoveries. Hurst will look for another productive season transpired by his speed and his quick instincts.
S Tony Jefferson (Junior, Oklahoma)
Jefferson is a highlight waiting to happen. The versatile safety is comfortable in coverage, but he thrives on the blitz and in the box where he had 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. Jefferson also led the team in interceptions with 4.5 and additionally finished with 74 tackles. If Jefferson can build off his breakout season he can prove to be one of the best playmakers in the conference.
CB Brodrick Brown (Senior, Oklahoma State)
In the pass heavy Big 12, Brown was able to display his incredible coverage skills. Brown led the Cowboys with five interceptions, and was first in the conference with 20 passes defended. He is a pure ballhawk as a physical corner with great athleticism.
DE Stansly Maponga (Junior, TCU)
The Zimbabwe native was a defensive force in the Mountain West last season with 13.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, five forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Maponga has great length and has success forcing fumbles and getting to the quarterback with his quick hands. It’ll be exciting to see what strong pass rusher can do on a larger stage in the Big 12.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Junior, Texas)
Jeffcoat demonstrated his tremendous talent last season with an exceptional 71 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. Jeffcoat is an explosive pass rusher off the line, and uses his closing speed to take down his opponent. His outstanding play will be essential for the Longhorns, as they prove to be an elite defense.
DE Alex Okafor (Senior, Texas)
The other side of the Texas line is just as scary headed by Okafor. The 6-4 and 260 pound lineman is all power; he can run through offensive lineman, but is also quick enough to get to the edge. Last season Okafor totaled for 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. With Okafor and Jeffcoat, Texas becomes the most feared line in the Big 12.
S Kenny Vaccaro (Senior, Texas)
The dynamic strong safety flourished last season 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up, and two interceptions. At 6-1 215 pounds, Vaccaro has plus size and a great playmaking ability. While the two Texas linemen “wow” the nation with sacks, don’t forget about Vaccaro who shines in the Texas secondary.