It's never too early to start thinking about college football, and end-of-season awards are no exception.
Immediately upon looking at this list, two conferences shine: the SEC and the Big Ten.
A total of eight impressive hopefuls from both Alabama and LSU alone were placed on the watch list for 2012. This isn't surprising though, as both teams battled for last year's national championship. The defenses alone on both teams were stellar and this 2012 watch list clearly reflects that.
The Alabama players on the watch list are LB Nico Johnson, CB Robert Lester, LB CJ Mosley and DT Jesse Williams. LSU players on the list are CB Tyrann Mathieu, DE Barkevious Mingo, DE Sam Montgomery and S Eric Reid.
The only other team that was able to match both Alabama and LSU was the Big Ten's Michigan State. Another strong defense in 2011, the Spartans will head into 2012 with the same strength and a lot of returning talent.
Those that made the watch list for the Spartans in 2012 are CB Johnny Adams, LB Denicos Allen, LB Max Bullough and DE William Gholston.
While many conferences have a lot to look forward to with the Bednarik Award watch list, it's clear that the SEC and Big Ten have a lot of talent on their hands. The SEC boasts Mathieu, who likely will be back on the Heisman candidate list for 2012, while the Big Ten shows off a long list of bruisers on the watch list.
In terms of the Big Ten, it is interesting to note that a lot of the potential semifinalists come from just a few key programs—Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio state, Purdue, Iowa and Illinois. From there, the rest of the Big Ten isn't looking as strong for 2012.
An honorable mention needs to be given to the Big 12, who also had quite a few on the list. 2011 semifinalist LB Arthur Brown from Kansas State has made the list once again, and is joined by teammate Nigel Malone, a senior CB.
All in all, the SEC and Big Ten are poised to make a statement when the semifinalists are officially announced for The Bednarik Award on October 29.
In the meantime, the watch list should tide college football fans over and give us something worth analyzing.
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