Eight Mountain West Defenders Named To 2019 Bednarik Award Watch List
The long list of athletes in the running to be the nation’s best defensive player includes a whopping eight players from Mountain West football.
Top-flight defenders could bring the hardware home.
College football watch list season began this morning with the reveal of athletes in the running for the both the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, the latter of which is given annually to the nation’s defensive player of the year.
The Mountain West is well-represented on this year’s edition for good reason, a group headlined by Boise State STUD Curtis Weaver. He solidified his position as the Mountain West’s premier pass rusher in 2018, collecting team-best 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Interestingly, he’s also the only player in the conference given odds to win the Bednarik, though they aren’t exactly great odds.
Utah State, meanwhile, landed a pair of Aggies onto the list in David Woodward and Tipa Galeai. Woodward played well enough last fall to be named as an all-American by Pro Football Focus, leading the Mountain West with 134 tackles while adding five sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Galeai led USU with 10.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss, adding two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Fresno State, too, landed a pair of returning Bulldogs on the Bednarik in safety Juju Hughes and linebacker Mykal Walker. Hughes tallied eight passes defended, four interceptions and 78 tackles while Walker, who spent last season at defensive end but will play at middle linebacker in 2019, exploded onto the scene with 14 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
San Diego State linebacker Kyahva Tezino also broke out in a big way last fall, racking up 127 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, and he’s joined by fellow linebackers Logan Wilson and Gabe Sewell. Wilson finished his third year as a starter for the Wyoming Cowboys with 103 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two interceptions and two forced fumbles, while Sewell helped anchor a much-improved Nevada Wolf Pack defense with 91 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.
Last year’s Bednarik Award winner was Kentucky’s Josh Allen.