Five ACC players, including national sack leader Vic Beasley of Clemson, were among the 16 semifinalists named Tuesday for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive player.
Beasley, a junior with 10 sacks, was joined as a semifinalist by Pitt senior tackle Aaron Donald, Virginia Tech senior cornerback Kyle Fuller, Florida State senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner and Wake Forest senior tackle Nikita Whitlock.
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The Pac-12 had four players selected: UCLA senior linebacker Anthony Barr, Stanford senior linebacker Trent Murphy, Oregon junior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olumu and USC sophomore end Leonard Williams. Barr, who is in the running to be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, should be considered the favorite to win the award.
The other semifinalists, listed alphabetically: Wisconsin senior linebacker Chris Borland, Texas senior end Jackson Jeffcoat, Buffalo senior linebacker Khalil Mack, Alabama senior linebacker C.J. Mosley, Missouri senior end Michael Sam, Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier and BYU senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won last season's award. LSU cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu (2011) and Patrick Peterson (2010) had won the previous two, and were the first defensive backs to win since Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997. The award has been handed out since 1995, and linebackers have won 12 times. The most recent lineman to win was Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh in 2009.
Three finalists will be announced November 25, and the winner will be named December 12.
Eligible voters are Maxwell Football Club members, coaches, sports information directors and selected national media.