July 9, 2012
PHILADELPHIA - Illinois junior linebacker Jonathan Brown and senior defensive end Michael Buchanan have both been named to the preseason watch list for the 2012 Bednarik Award, given annually the nation's top defensive player.
Brown was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media in 2011 after he ranked sixth in the nation and second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss per game with 1.63 (19.5 total). He led the Big Ten in TFLs (14.5) in conference games and ranked second in tackles (11.9 per game), pacing the Illini with 108 stops. Brown has already been named to the 2012 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list and is a preseason All-American by Phil Steele.
Buchanan also had a big 2011 season playing opposite first-team All-American DE Whitney Mercilus. Buchanan was a second-team All-Big Ten selection, recording 64 tackles and ranking fourth in the Big Ten in sacks (7.5) and ninth in TFLs (13.5).
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 LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus was a semifinalist for the award in 2011.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on Oct. 29 and three finalists for the award will be unveiled Nov. 19. The winner will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show on Dec. 6. 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 2012 season unfolds.
Illini on 2012 Preseason Honors & Watch Lists (as of 7/9)
Jonathan Brown, LB - Bednarik Award (Def. POY), Lott IMPACT Trophy (Def. POY), Phil Steele All-American (fourth team)
Michael Buchanan, DE - Bednarik Award (Def. POY)
Graham Pocic, C - Rimington Trophy (C)