Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy was one of 12 semifinalists named this morning for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club National Selection Committee to the outstanding defensive player in the nation.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o won the award last year. The semifinalists were announced today per CBSsports.com along with the finalists for the committee’s Maxwell Award, presented to the most outstanding player in the country.
Other Bednarik nominees include UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Wake Forest defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock and Southern Cal defensive end Leonard Williams.
Murphy is third in the country with 9.5 sacks, just a half-sack behind co-leaders Sam and Beasley. Murphy also had a pick six in Stanford’s win over Washington State on Sept. 28, returning an interception 30 yards for a score.
On the year, he has 33 tackles in eight games, 18 of them solos, and 13.5 tackles for loss, along with three passes broken up, four passes defensed, five quarterback hits and a blocked kick.
Stanford is 25th in the nation in total defense allowing 353.4 yards per game, a figure that is third in the Pac-12 behind Southern Cal (317.9) and Arizona State (349.3). The Cardinal is 13th against the run (103.3), which leads the Pac-12, and 18th in scoring defense (19.4 points per game), behind Oregon (16.9) and Southern Cal (19.3) in the conference.
The Bednarik Award has been awarded since 1993 and no Cardinal has ever won it. Notable past winners include current Oakland Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson (Michigan, 1997) and former Raider defensive tackle Warren Sapp (Miami, 1994).
The award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12.