Defensive end Joe Gaziano and linebacker Paddy Fisher were named to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List Monday for the second year in a row.
The two NU upperclassmen joined a group of 80 players who found their name in the preseason conversation for one of the most prestigious defensive awards in all of college football.
Gaziano led the Wildcats in both sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (12.5) last season, and he also forced three fumbles. Fisher has recorded 100+ tackles for the Wildcats in back-to-back seasons and his four forced fumbles in 2018 were tied for the best in the Big Ten.
The Big Ten had 13 players named to the Watch List, and the Wildcats are one of four B1G schools with multiple candidates represented.
Preseason hype/accolades mean little (if anything at all), but it’s still nice to see Northwestern’s top players earn the national recognition they deserve after leading the Wildcats to a historic 2018 campaign. Fisher and Gaziano have proven they’re among the Big Ten’s best, and it’s always a good sign for the program to have its top players recognized in front of a national audience.
Since 1995, the Maxwell Football Club has annually presented the Bednarik Award to the best defensive player in college football. Pat Fitzgerald was the award’s inaugural winner in 1995 and won the trophy again in 1996. Fitz is one of only two players to win the award more than once. Kentucky’s Josh Allen won the award most recently in 2018.
Both Fisher and Gaziano will be available to the media later this week as part of the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.