Today the National College Football Awards Association released the 76 names on the 2014 Bednarik Award watch list. Two of those names belonged to MWC players: Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell and Fresno State safety Derron Smith.
The Bednarik Award is awarded to the best overall college football player each year.
Fackrell (6'5", 245 pounds) recorded 82 tackles last year as a sophomore, 13 of which were tackles for loss (best on the team). He also forced two fumbles, recorded 5.0 sacks and returned one interception 99 yards for a touchdown--the third-longest interception-touchdown return in Aggie history. After the great season, Fackrell earned All-MWC Second Team honors and found himself at No. 18 on Mel Kiper's first 2015 mock NFL draft. He also found himself on both Phil Steele's and Athlon Sports' 2014 preseason All-MWC First Team. And now he's being recognized as the potential best defensive player in the 2014-15 college football season.
Smith (5'11", 200 pounds) had a staggeringly good season last year as a redshirt-junior: he recorded 87 tackles--8.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. He also intercepted seven passes--good for second in the country--for 135 yards and one touchdown. Smith picked off seven passes in his first two seasons, giving him 14 career interceptions entering this season--that's the most of any active FBS player playing the 2014-15 season. Like Fackrell, Smith is being recognized as a possible 2015 first round draftee. CBS Sports ranks Smith the 33rd best 2015 NFL prospect and the No. 1 safety prospect. Smith has been on the All-MWC First Team after both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was on Phil Steele's and Athlon Sports' preseason All-MWC First Team. Smith was also named to the Bednarik Award watch list last year--maybe second time's the charm for him.