EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 26: Jonathan Jean-Louis #1 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball as Khaseem Greene #20 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights defends on November 26, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 40-22. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
In addition to the Maxwell Award watch list, the Bednarik Award watch list was released today. The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation's best defensive player. Last year's winner, LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, returns for a chance to win a second award. The Bednarik Award has been given annually since 1995. Offense has been an issue for the Big East for the past three or four seasons, but defense has not. The fact that there are consistently better defensive players in the Big East is reflected in the Bednarik Watch list.
This year, four Big East players have been named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list. Linebacker Khaseem Greene and cornerback Logan Ryan from the conference's best defense, Rutgers, made the list. You could argue that Scott Vallone also deserves a spot on the list as well. Connecticut defensive lineman Trevardo Williams makes the list. He'll be the key to the success of that Huskies defensive front now that Kendall Reyes is off to the NFL. Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald is the fourth Big East player on the list.
The youth of the Louisville defense shows in that despite statistically being the second best defense in the conference last year, the Cardinals didn't have any players named to this list. We suspect that by season's end, there will be at least one in consideration. The same could be said of the South Florida defense (no DeDe Lattimore?).
You can view the full list after the jump.