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USC Football: 3 Trojans Appear On Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List

Trenise Ferreira |
July 11, 2012 | 12:51 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The Chuck Bednarik Award released its preseason watch list on Monday, the same day the Maxwell Award list came out. In addition to the four Trojans on the Maxwell list, three USC defenders were listed on the Bednarik watch list. The award annually recognizes the nation’s top defensive player.

T.J. McDonald elected to postpone his NFL career by one year just like USC's other No. 7. (Neon Tommy/Creative Commons)
T.J. McDonald elected to postpone his NFL career by one year just like USC's other No. 7. (Neon Tommy/Creative Commons)
Safety T.J. McDonald, outside linebacker Dion Bailey, and cornerback Nickell Robey are the USC representatives on the watch list. With this trio, USC has more nominated athletes for the Bednarik Award than any other school in the Pac-12. The last Trojan to win the Bednarik Award was Rey Maualuga, who did it in 2008.

LSU, Alabama and Michigan State tied for the most of any school, with four players apiece. Last year’s winner, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, will attempt to defend his title as he returns for his junior season. 

As the season looms nearer, we will examine McDonald, Bailey and Robey —who are undoubtedly going to be the major defensive players for ‘SC this season—but for now let’s look at their Pac-12 competition:

Senior Saftey John Boyett (Oregon Ducks)

108 tackles, .5 sacks

Boyett was one of Oregon’s most antagonizing safeties, seemingly always getting to the ball and stopping plays. He didn’t record any picks and also had no sacks until the Rose Bowl, but he was clearly productive nonetheless.

Against USC, he had eight tackles, but it was not enough to impede the offensive attack that the Trojans brought with them to Autzen.

Senior Defensive End Dion Jordan (Oregon Ducks)

42 tackles (13 for losses, a team-high), 7.5 sacks

Jordan is quick off the edge, deftly getting to opposing quarterbacks and bringing them down. His 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame makes him an imposing force on the D-line, and he uses his size to body through opponents. He’s not particularly heavy considering how tall he is, but he works well in Oregon’s system, which operates on smaller, more agile talent.

Jordan didn’t record any stats in Oregon’s loss to ‘SC, but judging from his season stats, he definitely took care of business in 2011.

Senior CB Jordan Poyer (Oregon State Beavers)

57 tackles, 4 interceptions

Poyer has been one of the bright lights for a Beavers defense that hasn’t had much to write home about over the past few seasons. While he’s often overshadowed by big-name cornerbacks in the Pac-12, he holds his own quite well. Poyer’s biggest play came against BYU, where he recorded an interception and ran it back 51 yards.

Because of the new Pac-12 alignment, Oregon State did not play USC in 2011.

Senior LB Shayne Skov (Stanford Cardinal)

25 tackles, 1.5 sacks

Skov is the incumbent starter at one of the inside linebacker positions, where he has started 18 games over the last two seasons. He is a tenacious, fierce competitor that has emerged as one of the leaders of this Cardinal defense. Because he did not start in every game in 2011, his stats aren’t up there like some of the other nominees for the Bednarik Award, but his career trajectory for 2012 could propel him further up the list.

Senior LB Chase Thomas (Stanford Cardinal)

Chase Thomas looks to keep the Andrew Luck-less Cardinal atop the Pac-12 standings. (daaka2/Creative Commons)
Chase Thomas looks to keep the Andrew Luck-less Cardinal atop the Pac-12 standings. (daaka2/Creative Commons)
51 tackles, 8.5 sacks

Chase is returning to start at the "sam" linebacker position where he absolutely destroyed in 2010 as a part of Stanford’s 3-4 scheme. He was a key factor in Stanford reestablishing a strong defensive presence in the Pac-12. Over the past two seasons, he has garnered 180 tackles and 14.5 sacks. Thomas is easily one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12, wreaking all kinds of havoc for his opponents.

Against USC, he only recorded two tackles and was kept at bay by USC’s quick-release offense, but expect him to be a huge factor for the Cardinal once again this season.

Senior DT Star Lotulelei (Utah Utes)

44 tackles (9 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 1 deflection, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Lotulelei is coming off a first-team all-Pac-12 season when he won the 2011 Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman. Lotulelei stands 6-foot-4 and weighs approximately 320 pounds. The defensive tackle has used his size to take on triple-teams from offensive linemen. He is a huge factor in why Utah might be one of the teams to watch this year in the Pac-12, even though things didn’t go so well in their inaugural season. He needs to increase his sack count this season, but expect him to once again make a case for himself as the best d-lineman in the conference. 

Lotulelei could pose serious problems for USC, who narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of the Utes, 23-14. This time around the Trojans have to travel to Utah; expect them to rise to the occasion. 

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