PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Texas junior linebacker Malik Jefferson was named Monday by the Maxwell Football Club to the preseason watch list for the 2017 Bednarik Award. The award, which was first presented in 1995, is given to the College Defensive Player of the Year.
A third-year linebacker and native of Mesquite, Texas, Jefferson would be the first Longhorn in school history to win the prestigious award. Derrick Johnson was a finalist for the honor in 2004. So far this preseason, Jefferson has been named an All-America by Sporting News and also Preseason All-Big 12 by Athlon Sports.
As a sophomore a season ago, Jefferson played in 11 games while making nine starts. He finished third on the team with 62 tackles (42 solo), while totaling 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He also added three pass breakups, three quarterback pressures and a forced fumble to earn second-team All-Big 12 recognition from the Associated Press. In addition, he was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.
Jefferson had an impressive freshman campaign in 2015, earning freshman All-America honors by the Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and USA Today. He was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, in addition to earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors, after compiling 61 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He led the Longhorns that season in quarterback pressures (six) and was fourth with his seven tackles for loss, while also adding three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Bednarik Award is named for Chuck Bednarik, who was a three-time All-America at Penn and played professionally for the Philadelphia Eagles. Bednarik is both a member of the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 1969 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of 1967.