Quin Blanding and Micah Kiser, two defensive standouts for the Virginia football team, continue to pull in preseason recognition. On Monday, the duo joined 16 other ACC players on the 2017 Bednarik Award Watch List. Both players likely bypassed spots in the NFL Draft to return to UVA.
The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995 by the Maxwell Football Club. Bednarik earned induction to both the College Football Hall of Fame (read about two Hoos up for the college hall this cycle) and the NFL Hall of Fame. This is the second straight year that both Virginia players landed on the watch list and the third time overall for Blanding.
Blanding returns to the Cavaliers after earning All-ACC (first team) and All-American (second team by Sporting News and Sports Illustrated) honors a year ago. He started 12 games last fall and posted 120 tackles. At 10.0 tackles per game, he ranked No. 2 in the ACC and No. 9 in the nation. Blanding has 358 career tackles, No. 9 all-time at Virginia.
Kiser came back to UVA after earning All-ACC (first team) and All-American (second team by Football Writers Association of America) in 2016. He tallied 134 tackles last season. He led the ACC and ranked fourth nationally at 11.2 tackles per game. Kiser has led the ACC in tackles the past two seasons, while Blanding finished second – the first time a defensive duo from the same team finished 1-2 in back-to-back seasons since the league started tracking tackle leaders in 1990.
Both players previously received recognition on the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List and are considered locks for the preseason All-ACC team when it is announced on July 19. The ACC team preseason poll is set to be released next Monday.
The Bednarik Award will announce semifinalists on Oct. 30 and three finalists on Nov. 20. The winner will be announced on Dec. 7 during the College Football Awards Show. Other ACC players on the Bednarik Watch List include Jaire Alexander (Louisville), Bradley Chubb (NC State), Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), Duke Ejiofor (Wake Forest), Ben Humphreys (Duke), Derwin James (Florida State), Harold Landry (Boston College), Dexter Lawrence (Clemson), Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State), Derrick Nnadi (Florida State), Kendrick Norton (Miami), Shaq Quarterman (Miami), M.J. Stewart (North Carolina), Matthew Thomas (Florida State), Jordan Whitehead (Pitt), and Christian Wilkins (Clemson).