Malik Jefferson named to the Bednarik Award Watch List

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-Malik Jefferson has been named to the Bednarik Award Watch List-

AUSTIN, Texas – Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas) has been named to the 2016 Preseason Watch List for the Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive player. He was also named a first team Preseason All-American by Sporting News on Friday.

The preseason honors come on the heels of a standout freshman season. Jefferson, who was selected as a freshman All-American a season ago by the Football Writers Associaton of America, Sporting News and USA Today, played in 11 games for the Longhorns. He started nine games, finishing the season with 61 tackles, six quarterback pressures and seven tackles for loss, earning the Big 12 Conference's Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. He was also named honorable mention All-Big 12 at linebacker.

Ranked as the top player in the state of Texas coming out of high school, Jefferson began his career with a strong performance at Notre Dame a season ago, totaling nine tackles and a  season-high 2.5 tackles for loss. The following week, he helped the Longhorns to their first win of the season, registering nine tackles, one TFL and four pressures, while also returning a fumble for 26 yards and a touchdown against Rice. For the third straight week to begin the season, Jefferson tallied nine takedowns in a one-point loss to Cal. In addition to an impressive three-game start to his career, Jefferson totaled six tackles in a win against Oklahoma to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.

No Longhorn has ever been named the winner of the Bednarik Award, although Derrick Johnson was named a finalist for the award in 2004. The award, which began in 1995, is presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club.

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.

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