No Big Ten player has won the Chuck Bednarik Award — given annually to the best defensive player in the country — since Penn State’s Paul Posluszny (2005 and 2006) and Dan Connor (2007). But that might change this year.
Michigan sophomore Jabrill Peppers, Iowa senior CB Desmond King and Nebraska senior S Nate Gerry are three of 18 semifinalists for the award, which will be presented in December by the Maxwell Football Club.
Bednarik Award (top defensive player) semifinalists from B1G: Iowa’s Desmond King, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and Nebraska’s Nate Gerry,
— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) October 31, 2016
Peppers is also a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top player. He’s one of just two defensive players on that list.
Peppers is a Heisman Trophy favorite, excelling on both sides of the ball for the Wolverines. He has 44 tackles, 10 for loss, and three sacks on defense, and 134 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns on offense.
King was a first-team All-American last season with eight interceptions and 72 tackles. This year, he has 42 tackles and just one INT, but has been among the best cover corners in the country.
Gerry has 50 tackles and four interceptions this season, anchoring the back-end of a much-improved Nebraska secondary.
Here are the rest of the nominees.
Bednarik Award semifinalists
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
Christian Wilkins, DE, Clemson
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Desmond King, CB, Iowa
Arden Key, DE, LSU
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan
Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska
Ejuan Price, DE, Pittsburgh
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Budda Baker, S, Washington