Two days ago the Maxwell House football club released a list of 76 candidates for the 2014 Chuck Bednarik award. The award has been given to the best defensive player in the nation since 1995. The American Athletic Conference has four members on the preseason watch list for the prestigious award. Junior cornerback Lorenzo Doss from Tulane, senior defensive end Martin Ifedi out of Memphis, junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich from Temple, and senior linebacker Terrence Plummer from Central Florida. The AAC, previously known as the Big East, has only been awarded the Chuck Bednarik award once, in 2000 when Miami Hurricane Dan Morgan won.
Lorenzo Doss is one of the best defensive players in the American Athletic conference if not the best player. In only his sophomore year Doss made sports Illustrated’s All-American third team, and Walter Camp’s All-American second team. Doss led the Pelicans in interceptions with seven and ran back two for touchdowns. Doss also ran a fumble recovery back for a score, to go with nine pass deflections and 78 tackles during his impressive sophmore year. Doss had was named to the AAC’s all-conference first team.
Martin Ifedi made the list after converting from defensive tackle. In Ifedi’s junior year, Ifedi recorded 10.5 sacks ranking him 12th in the nation in total sacks and second in the conference. Martin added 52 tackles to his resume with 14.5 of those tackles coming behind the line of scrimmiage. Entering his senior year Ifedi is one sack shy of tying the Memphis school record with 21 sacks. If Ifedi can have a similar season to his 2013 campaign, Ifedi will have shattered the school record by almost 10 sacks.
Tyler Matakevich was a 4th team All-American pick as a sophomore and led the nation with 106 solo tackles. Matakevich was also 6th in the nation in total tackles with 10.5 of those coming for a loss behind the line of scrimmage. Matakevich broke Temple’s school record with 137 total tackles, landing him a spot on the AAC 1st team all conference team.
Terrence Plummer is considered to be one of the nation’s top linebackers. Making his national debut in last year’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against the Baylor Bears. Plummer was the defensive MVP after leading the team with 14 total tackles. Plumber also led the UCF knights with 110 total tackles with 8.5 of those tackles coming behind the line of scrimmage. Plummer added 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. Plummer is on college football’s performance awards watch list for being a top 40 linebacker in the country.