Twice in the last six seasons, an American Athletic Conference player has won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. This year, seven players from The American have been listed as candidates for the national honor with their placement on the award’s preseason watch list.
The seven American Athletic Conference players are among the 90 players named to the 2021 watch list.
Cincinnati, which finished last season ranked No. 8 nationally, has two players on the watch list as All-America cornerback Ahmad Gardner joins defensive end Myjai Sanders.
Houston cornerback Marcus Jones, himself an All-America pick as a special teams player last season, makes the list, joining Memphis safety Quindell Johnson, Navy linebacker Diego Fagot, Tulane linebacker Dorian Williams and Tulsa defensive tackle Jaxon Player.
Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, who was the unanimous American Athletic Conference Defensie Player of the Year in 2020, won last year’s Bednarik Award, joining 2015 honoree Tyler Matakevich from Temple from The American’s list of past winners.
COURTESY THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE