The Michigan defense might have lost plenty from last season, but it’s bringing back some big pieces, too.
Rising senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and sophomore-to-be Rashan Gary landed spots Monday on the watch list for Chuck Bednarik Award, given to college football’s defensive player of the year.
Former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers, a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, was a finalist last season for the award, won by Jonathan Allen of Alabama.
Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown says he believes Hurst and Gary form the top defensive lineman tandem in the country, and they’ve both appeared on numerous preseason top-player lists.
The Bednarik is simply the latest.
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Hurst had 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season, while the 6-5, 287-pound Gary had five tackles for loss and a sack among 27 tackles last season as a freshman on a deep Michigan defensive line. He also had seven quarterback hurries.
Semifinalists will be announced Oct. 30, while the finalists will be unveiled Nov. 20. The winner will be annoucned Dec. 7.