Daniel McCullers, A.J. Johnson named to Bednarik Award watch list

Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (98) looks on after helping stop South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore (21) at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (98) looks on after helping stop South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore (21) at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and linebacker A.J. Johnson were named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list on Monday.

The award recognizes college football's top defensive player. The Maxwell Football Club, which supervises the award, named 76 players on its watch list.

The Maxwell Award, which goes to college football's top overall player, did not include any Vols on its preseason watch list.

In 2012, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o became the first player to win both awards.

Three semifinalists who lost out to Te'o for last season's Bednarik Award are on this year's list. Alabama's C.J. Mosley, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton headline this year's list. Notre Dame has four players on the list. Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Stanford have three.

The Bednarik Award is named for former Penn standout Chuck Bednarik, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1967 after his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame two years later.

Johnson was the SEC's leading tackler in 2012 on a Tennessee defense that was one of the worst in school history. McCullers has slimmed down after arriving from junior college last year and is expected to play an important role on the Vols' veteran defensive line.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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Comments » 6

ktownorange32 writes:

Both deserve to be on that list. They both were only shining lights on a dismal defense last year. They will make great leaders on defense this year

eVOLved writes:

Clowney was the most impressive player last year.

antonio14313 writes:

i'd look for both of these boys to be finalists. #98 eats space, and johnson is a beast. last year's D was confused, so switching back to the 4-3 will be much welcomed, and well executed with this year's coaching staff.

good times are ahead for vols nation!

go vols!

t

mikethehistorystudent writes:

We're counting on Johnson to be the leader on defense this year. He's strong, smart, and motivated. This D is going to be better than anticipated. I'm proud of McCullers for dropping weight and taking this work seriously. Less weight = speed through the line, but still enough size to throw someone around.

GerryOP writes:

in response to antonio14313:

i'd look for both of these boys to be finalists. #98 eats space, and johnson is a beast. last year's D was confused, so switching back to the 4-3 will be much welcomed, and well executed with this year's coaching staff.

good times are ahead for vols nation!

go vols!

t

I agree 100%. Time to stop looking back and look to the future ... and the future will be good!

ReeseHallRelic writes:

I like our guys, and I hate to admit this, but there's really only one guy that needs to be on the actual "watch" list: Jadeveon Clowney.

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