Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Three Big Ten players made the list of semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation's top defender.
The first two names come as no surprise. Ohio State senior linebacker James Laurinaitis won the Butkus Award last year and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2006, while Buckeyes senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins entered the season as the frontrunner for the Thorpe Award.
Penn State sophomore defensive end Aaron Maybin also made the list of Bednarik semifinalists, despite beginning the season as a backup. Maybin is the likely frontrunner for Big Ten Defensive MVP after leading the league in both sacks (11) and forced fumbles (3) and ranking second in tackles for loss (15.5).
Penn State linebackers Paul Posluszny (2005, 2006) and Dan Connor (2007) won the Bednarik Award in each of the last three seasons.
Here's the full list of Bednarik semifinalists.
Tennessee S Eric Berry
Alabama NT Terrence Cody
California LB Zack Follett
Texas Christian DE Jerry Hughes
Ohio State CB Malcolm Jenkins
Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis
USC LB Rey Maualuga
Penn State DE Aaron Maybin
Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
Pittsburgh LB Scott McKillop
Texas DE Bryan Orakpo
Florida State S Myron Rolle
Florida LB Brandon Spikes
Georgia Tech DT Vance Walker
Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon