PHILADELPHIA — Tennessee junior defensive end Derek Barnett has been selected as one of 18 semifinalists for the 22nd Chuck Bednarik Award for Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year, as announced on Monday by Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworski.
The field of contenders for the 22nd Chuck Bednarik Award is comprised of fresh faces, most of whom are making their debuts as Bednarik Award semifinalists. Four different conferences are represented, led by nine student-athletes from the SEC and three each from the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC. Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich won the Bednarik Award in 2015.
Semifinalist voting for both the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 1, and will close on Nov. 21. Three finalists for each award will be announced on Nov. 22 and a second round of voting will take place at that time. Eligible voters include Maxwell Football Club members, NCAA head football coaches, sports information directors and selected national media. All Semifinalists are listed in alphabetical order with the player’s school, position and class designated.
Barnett is having an outstanding junior season. He has started all eight of Tennessee’s first eight games of the season at defensive end and has amassed 36 tackles (25 solo) with team highs of 9.0 sacks (tied for most in the nation), 14.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and seven quarterback hurries. He also has one interception and three passes defended. Barnett’s 9.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss are also the most in the SEC. His 9.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in SEC games are also the best marks in the conference.
Barnett has recorded a sack in each of UT’s five SEC games and notched multi-sack performances against Florida and Georgia (2.0 sacks in each) and South Carolina (3.0 sacks). With a career-high-tying three sacks against the Gamecocks on Saturday, Barnett now has 29.0 career sacks, which ranks first among active FBS players and second in Tennessee history, passing the great Leonard Little (28.0 sacks from 1995-97) for second place on the Vols’ all-time sack list. He now trails only the legendary Reggie White, who recorded 32.0 sacks from 1980 to 1983. Barnett’s 47.5 career tackles for loss rank third in Tennessee history.