Mountain West Football: Five Named To Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List
The long list of athletes in the running to be the nation’s best defensive player includes five players from Mountain West football.
Is there a dark horse to win in this group?
The bulk of revelations for college football watch list season began this morning with the reveal of athletes in the running for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation’s defensive player of the year.
After landing eight players on last year’s list, the Mountain West is again well-represented with five new entries on the Bednarik list released this morning. The quintet is headlined by a pair of defenders from San Diego State, defensive lineman Cameron Thomas and safety Tariq Thompson.
Thomas broke out in a big way in his first full season with the Aztecs, earning first-team all-Mountain West honors as a freshman (the only one to do so) by collecting 49 tackles, 13 quarterback hurries, nine tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He was previously named a preseason second-team all-American by Pro Football Focus back in May.
Tariq Thompson, meanwhile, enters 2020 as one of the most productive defenders in the Mountain West in the past three seasons. He earned freshman all-American honors back in 2017 and was named a second-team all-Mountain West defender in 2017, 2018, and 2019, compiling 11 tackles for loss, 11 interceptions, 31 passes defended, and five forced fumbles in 39 career games.
Boise State cornerback Jalen Walker emerged as the head of a new class of Broncos defenders in 2019, landing on the all-Mountain West second team with Thompson after finishing the season with 53 tackles, ten passes defended and an interception.
Fresno State linebacker Justin Rice broke out as the best of the new Bulldogs linebacker unit last fall. He tied with Utah State’s David Woodward for a Mountain West-best four forced fumbles and landed on the all-Mountain West first team with 112 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions.
Lastly, Nevada’s Dom Peterson played like one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the Group of 5 in 2019, finishing second in the Mountain West with 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Like Thomas and Rice, Peterson was named a first-team all-Mountain West performer.
Last year’s Bednarik Award winner was Ohio State’s Chase Young.