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Alabama will not have a third straight Bednarik Award winner.
Kentucky’s Josh Allen was announced as the 2018 Bednarik winner Thursday, edging out Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Christian Wilkins as the top defensive player in college football.
SEC Network @SECNetwork
Congratulations to @UKFootball's Josh Allen for winning the Chuck Bednarik Award for College Defensive Player of the Year! https://t.co/CbVBzR0r1l
Allen, a senior, emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the country in 2018. He recorded 84 tackles (18.5 for loss) and 14 sacks during the regular season.
Allen has already brought home a number of postseason awards. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and took home the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for the nation’s best defensive player. Now, he’s the first player in Kentucky history to capture the Bednarik, an award that dates back to 1995.
Allen is widely expected to be a top-10 NFL draft pick. In his most recent mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller projected him to go third overall to the New York Jets:
“Josh Allen has been the most dominant defensive player in the SEC this season, notching 18.5 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks. For the Jets, with a massive need at pass-rusher, Allen is both a need and a fit.
“At 6’5″ and 260 pounds, Allen can play in any defensive scheme. That means whomever is coaching the Jets next season will be comfortable plugging him in as a Chandler Jones-like prospect off the edge.”
Wilkins recorded 46 tackles (12.5 for loss) and 4.5 sacks during the 2018 season. He was previously named the Campbell Award winner, colloquially known as the “Academic Heisman.”
Williams was a borderline out-of-nowhere sensation for the Tide in 2018. After redshirting in 2016 and barely seeing the field during his freshman season, Williams became the most dominant defensive lineman in college football in 2018. He recorded 66 tackles (18 for loss) and eight sacks while helping the Tide post a 13-0 regular-season mark.