The Bednarik Award is handed out each season to the best defensive player of the year in college football by the Maxwell Football Club.
According to Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk, on NBCSports.com, the senior from Hutchinson, Kansas is one of 76 players on the watch list this season.
Past winners include Manti Te’o of Notre Dame in 2012, Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska in 2009, Julius Peppers of North Carolina in 2001, and Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997. The first Chuck Bednarik Award was given out in 1995.
Ben Heeney made 87 tackles in the 2013 season, according to ESPN.com, despite missing two games to injuries. He also had 3 interceptions on the year, and recorded 2 sacks.
For Heeney to have any chance at winning this award, he would have to have an incredible season, and the downtrodden Jayhawks would have to have a huge turnaround. These awards aren’t handed out too often to players on 3-9 teams.
The Jayhawks have struggled mightily every year since the 2007-2008 Orange Bowl season. Last season, Kansas went 3-9 and 1-8 in Big 12 play. KU needs to improve in a big way.
Still, it is a tribute to his Heeney’s toughness and leadership even to make the preseason watch list. . It isn’t easy to draw any kind of positive attention while toiling in college football obscurity.
Who knows. Maybe the Jayhawks come out and win 4 or 5 games and Ben Heeney can put up some dominating numbers and remain on the watch list as it is whittled down throughout the season.