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Robert Nkemdiche Named Bednarik Award Semifinalist

Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil step out for the Auburn game. Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil step out for the Auburn game. Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 21st Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the Outstanding College Defensive Player of the Year.

The semifinalists, as selected by the Maxwell Football Club National Selection Committee, were announced Monday by Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworski.

A 6-foot-4, 296-pound junior defensive tackle, Nkemdiche has anchored the Rebels’ Landshark defense this season, while also providing some punch on offense. On defense, he has compiled 21 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His constant pressure in opposing backfields helps the Ole Miss defense share the SEC lead with 12 interceptions and rank second in the league with 17 takeaways.

The Loganville, Georgia, native has moonlighted in the offensive backfield as well. He has scored three touchdowns – two rushing, one receiving – as a member of the Rebels’ “jumbo” package for short-yardage situations. He has also blocked a field goal and protects the Ole Miss punters on the punt unit.

Nkemdiche is among 16 players who are making their debuts as Bednarik Award semifinalists. Defensive ends Joey Bosa (Ohio State) and Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State) join cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame) as repeat semifinalists from a season ago.

Last season, the Bednarik Award went to linebacker Scooby Wright of Arizona.

Nkemdiche is the first Ole Miss semifinalist for the award since Patrick Willis in 2006.

The winner of the 21st Chuck Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show which will be broadcast on ESPN on Dec. 10, 2015 from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. Three finalists for each award will be announced Nov. 24, 2015 and a second round of voting will take place at that time.

The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club’s 79th Awards Gala on Friday, March 11, 2016 at the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Semifinalist voting for both the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award will begin on Thursday, Nov. 5 and close on Sunday, Nov. 22. Eligible voters include Maxwell Football Club members, NCAA Head Football Coaches, Sports Information Directors and selected national media.

The Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards are members of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 720 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org to learn more.

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/OleMissFootball), in addition to www.OleMissSports.com.

2015 Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalists:

Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU, Junior

Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor, Junior

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State, Junior

Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida, Senior

Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State, Senior

Jeremy Cash, S, Duke, Senior

Su’a Cravens, LB, USC, Junior

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M, Sophomore

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida, Junior

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson, Junior

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan, Junior

Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple, Senior

Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State, Senior

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss, Junior

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State, Junior

Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama, Senior

Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State, Junior

A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama, Junior

Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin, Senior

Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame, Junior

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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