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.