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USC's Leonard Williams one of 20 Bednarik semifinalists

Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and USC defensive end Leonard Williams are among the 20 semifinalists announced Monday for the Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation's best defensive player.

All three were semifinalists last season, when the award was won by Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Beasley and Williams are among eight ends on the semifinalist list. They are joined by Ohio State's Joey Bosa, Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun, Nebraska's Randy Gregory, Baylor's Shawn Oakman, Utah's Nate Orchard and Missouri's Shane Ray. Ekpre-Olomu, Mississippi's Senquez Golson and Florida's Vernon Hargreaves IIII are the cornerbacks on the list.

There also are two safeties (Alabama's Landon Collins and Louisville's Gerod Holliman, who leads the nation with 10 interceptions), one defensive tackle (Washington's Danny Shelton) and six linebackers (Texas' Jordan Hicks, Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha, Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney, Miami's Denzel Perryman, Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith and Arizona's Scooby Wright) on the list.

Kikaha leads the nation with 15.5 sacks, while Orchard, Ray and Wright are tied for second with 12. Bosa is sixth with 10, while Texas A&M freshman end Myles Garrett -- who is not a semifinalist -- is fifth with 11. Wright also is tied for sixth in the nation in tackles, with 97.

The three finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and the winner will be announced Dec. 11.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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