Three Big Ten players named Bednarik Award semifinalists

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