Brown Named to Bednarik Award Watch List

This marks the second straight year Brown has been a Bednarik Award preseason candidate.
This marks the second straight year Brown has been a Bednarik Award preseason candidate.

July 8, 2013

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Philadelphia - Illinois senior linebacker Jonathan Brown has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2013 Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club.

This marks the third preseason honor for Brown, as he's already on the watch list for the College Football Performance Awards Linebacker Trophy and was named a preseason first-team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele. It marks the second straight year Brown has been a preseason Bednarik candidate, as he and former UI defensive end Michael Buchanan both were on last season's watch list.

Brown was a Butkus Award semifinalist and honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012 despite missing the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury and missing significant portions of four other games due to injury. Brown was leading the Illini with 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks before having his season cut short.

Brown had a breakout 2011 season, earning All-Big Ten honors with 108 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He ranked sixth in the nation in TFLs per game (1.63) and led the Big Ten in TFLs per game during conference play (2.07).

The Bednarik Award, which has been presented to the top defensive player in the country since 1995, is named after former Penn and Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik. Last year's Bednarik Award winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on Oct. 29 and three finalists for the award will be unveiled Nov. 25. The winner will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 12. The watch list was chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee based on past performance and future potential. The Club may make additions or deletions to the list as the 2013 season unfolds.

In addition to Brown, two other Illini were recently recognized on preseason watch lists as punter Justin DuVernois and kicker Taylor Zalewski were both named to College Football Performance Awards Special Teams watch list. DuVernois ranked fourth in the Big Ten in punting in 2012 with a 41.9 yards per punt average, including 15 punts of 50+ yards, while Zalewski hit 4-of-7 field goals last season, including a career-long 54-yarder against Purdue, while also averaging 63.0 yards and booting 23 touchbacks in 43 kickoffs.

2013 Illinois Preseason Honors (as of July 8)
Jonathan Brown, LB - Bednarik Award Watch List (Defensive POY), CFPA Linebacker Watch List, First Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele)
Justin DuVernois, P - CFPA Punter Watch List, Second Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele)
Mason Monheim, LB - Fourth Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele)
Taylor Zalewski, PK - CFPA Specialist Watch List

Season tickets for the 2013 Illinois football season, which includes seven home games, are on sale now for as low as $99. The Fighting Illini also will host the Chicago Homecoming game at historic Soldier Field on Sept. 14 against Washington. Tickets for the Chicago Homecoming game start at $30 and are on sale now.