Georgia's Jordan Davis Wins 2021 Bednarik Award

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 10, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 4: Brian Robinson Jr. #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is tackled by Jordan Davis #99 of the Georgia Bulldogs during a game between Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 4, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis has won the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given annually to college football's best defensive player. 

Davis earned the honor at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday.

Alabama sophomore linebacker Will Anderson Jr., Oregon junior defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Notre Dame junior safety Kyle Hamilton were also named as finalists.

Here's a look at all four finalists' resumes, starting with the winner.


Georgia DT Jordan Davis

The 6'6", 340-pound Davis anchors the No. 1 defense in the country. Georgia has only allowed 9.5 points per game thanks in part to Davis, who has 28 tackles and two sacks.

Georgia Football @GeorgiaFootball

๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ: <a href="https://twitter.com/jordanxdavis99?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jordanxdavis99</a><br><br>๐™Š๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™๐™ฎ, ๐˜ฝ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ ๐™ค ๐™‰๐™–๐™œ๐™ช๐™ง๐™จ๐™ ๐™ž ๐™๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™๐™ฎ, &amp; ๐˜พ๐™๐™ช๐™˜๐™  ๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™™๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ง๐™ž๐™  ๐˜ผ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™™<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoDawgs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoDawgs</a> <a href="https://t.co/X085DRa3zP">pic.twitter.com/X085DRa3zP</a>

Davis can do a little of everything, including run defense, running the football and running the school band:

PFF College Football @PFF_College

Jordan Davis: 88.6 career run defense grade<br><br>1st among active SEC DTs ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿ’ช <a href="https://t.co/Ag9dC3daZh">pic.twitter.com/Ag9dC3daZh</a>

Ryne Dennis @RyneDennis

Jordan Davis over the top for a 1-yard touchdown <a href="https://t.co/6h4sRDfgS1">pic.twitter.com/6h4sRDfgS1</a>

UGA @universityofga

That moment when the <a href="https://twitter.com/UGARedcoatBand?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UGARedcoatBand</a> names Jordan Davis an honorary member of the band. <a href="https://t.co/7M1vuWZVWo">pic.twitter.com/7M1vuWZVWo</a>

Georgia opponents have only rushed for 2.6 yards per game in part because of Davis, who can count himself as one of the bedrocks of one of college football's most dominant teams.

The Bulldogs will be heading to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed after a 12-1 campaign. They were 12-0 before falling 41-24 to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.


Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr.

No defensive player has been more productive than Anderson, whose 15.5 sacks lead college football. He's also made 91 tackles (54 solo).

That performance follows up a 2020 season in which Anderson had 52 tackles and seven sacks for the undefeated Crimson Tide.

Take a look at some stats from the year that showcased just how good Anderson has been:

PFF College Football @PFF_College

Will Anderson Jr has pressured the QB at a higher rate than any other edge defender in CFB (19%)<a href="https://twitter.com/AlabamaFTBL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AlabamaFTBL</a> <a href="https://t.co/1jjE11lgQL">pic.twitter.com/1jjE11lgQL</a>

PFF College Football @PFF_College

List of defenders with 10+ sacks AND 10 QB hits:<br><br>Will Anderson Jr, <a href="https://twitter.com/AlabamaFTBL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AlabamaFTBL</a> <a href="https://t.co/90wBgG46PC">pic.twitter.com/90wBgG46PC</a>

PFF College Football @PFF_College

Most QB pressures over the last two seasons<br><br>1. Will Anderson Jr, Bama - 124<br><br>๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿคฏ<br><br>2. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma - 88 <a href="https://t.co/Gu4zzCOR0w">pic.twitter.com/Gu4zzCOR0w</a>

At 6'4" and 243 pounds, Anderson is an unstoppable force in the Alabama defense.

It hasn't always been easy for the Crimson Tide this year, as they suffered a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M and had to escape some close games against Florida and LSU, but having Anderson aboard has put Alabama in position to compete for another national title


Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux

Thibodeaux is the No. 1 option on many NFL draft boards, and for good reason: At his best, he's a ferocious, game-wrecking pass-rusher. Take his strip sack against Fresno State in a 34-31 season-opening win for example:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Kayvon Thibodeaux is going to be a PROBLEM this season ๐Ÿคญ<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/oregonfootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@oregonfootball</a>)<a href="https://t.co/Vij9YIHvgX">pic.twitter.com/Vij9YIHvgX</a>

Despite missing time because of injury, Thibodeaux amassed 49 tackles (12 for a loss) and seven sacks in eight games. He left one of those games early with an injury and played limited snaps in a second one upon his return.

At 6'5" and 258 pounds, Thibodeaux is a force to be reckoned with, and he's a key reason Oregon was able to stay in the College Football Playoff picture late into the season.


Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton

Hamilton's season has been limited to seven games because of a knee injury suffered against USC on Oct. 23. He was productive in those matchups with 34 tackles (19 solo) and three interceptions. 

Notre Dame Football @NDFootball

Kyle Hamilton. Bednarik Award Finalist. <a href="https://twitter.com/kyledhamilton_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kyledhamilton_</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoIrish?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoIrish</a> <a href="https://t.co/hNOn8xZrWh">pic.twitter.com/hNOn8xZrWh</a>

NFL draft analysts love Hamilton, who is currently fourth on the NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board. So does Brian Kelly, who provided his own scouting report:

PFF College Football @PFF_College

Kyle Hamilton is a special talent for <a href="https://twitter.com/NDFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NDFootball</a><br><br>Brian Kelly breaks down PFFโ€™s 4th overall prospect in 2022 ๐Ÿ€ <a href="https://t.co/pAniKUUyEf">pic.twitter.com/pAniKUUyEf</a>

Hamilton's versatility helped Notre Dame stay in the College Football Playoff picture for yet another year as the one-loss Fighting Irish looked to earn a top-four spot. They finished just shy at No. 5 but will play in the Fiesta Bowl versus Oklahoma State.