Bednarik Watch List Player Previews: ACC
The Bednarik Award is given out to the “Outstanding Collegiate Defensive Player of the Year” Here’s a preview on every Bednarik Watch List candidate from the ACC. A look into who they were last season, and who they can potentially be this season.
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DE Brandon Jenkins (Senior, Florida State)
Jenkins is the fearless leader of the Seminoles’ defensive line; last season he totaled 41 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. Entering his senior year with 21.5 career sacks, Jenkins is a Preseason All-America candidate. His quick first step along with his plus speed makes Jenkins one of the best pass rushers in the ACC.
S Lamarcus Joyner (Junior, Florida State)
Last season Joyner flourished in moving from corner to safety, becoming one of the best in the nation. He had 54 tackles and led FSU with four interceptions, earning him second team All-ACC honors. Joyner is very physical, known as a hard-hitter, with aggressive closing speed and solid awareness.
CB Xavier Rhodes (Junior, Florida State)
Rhodes has phenomenal size at corner, standing at 6-2, 209 pounds. The physical defensive back recorded 43 tackles, one interception, and four pass-breakups. Rhodes will be a third-year starter as he continues to reach his potential as a shutdown corner.
DT Joe Vellano (Senior, Maryland)
Vellano proved to be the most dynamic defensive tackle in the country with his staggering 94 tackles (nearly eight tackles a game) and 2.5 sacks. Vellano is extremely quick off the line, and certainly has a knack for the ball. Since the All-American is nearly a part of every play, he is particularly special to watch.
CB David Amerson (Junior, NC State)
Amerson completely broke onto the scene last season finishing with a nation-leading 13 interceptions. The physical 6-3 corner had four games with two interceptions; those games alone would have tied the NC State school record. Amerson has incredible athleticism and is a total ball hawk, like Rhodes he can challenge any receiver in the ACC.
LB Kevin Reddick (Senior, North Carolina)
The inside linebacker was the team’s defensive anchor. He was second on the team in tackles with 71, and added six tackles for loss, one sack, and four pass breakups. Reddick, standing at 6-3 and 240 pounds, will be essential to the success of North Carolina’s inaugural 4-2-5 defense next season. With his incredible speed and versatility, look for Reddick to be extremely productive in his last year as a Tar Heel.
CB Kyle Fuller (Junior, Virginia Tech)
Fuller is one of the toughest players in the ACC. The six-foot corner finished with 4.5 sacks and a remarkable 14.5 tackles for loss, as he thrives on attacking the backfield with his first-rate speed. He was named second team All-ACC and should only improve his junior season.
DE James Gayle (Junior, Virginia Tech)
In just nine games Gayle was able to tally seven sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. The Hokie is a promising pass rusher with great speed and athletic ability. If he stays healthy, he’ll challenge Jenkins as the best end in the ACC.
LB Bruce Taylor (Senior, Virginia Tech)
Despite missing the last five games of the regular season, along with the Sugar Bowl, Taylor was still able to total 53 tackles, five sacks, seven tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hurries in his eight games. Taylor was the team’s tackle leader before his foot injury, and should easily be crowned the Hokies top tackler this season if he remains healthy. Taylor will be the leader of this talented defense as he is a natural presence with his great instincts, energy, and prime tackling abilities.