BATON ROUGE - LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has been named one of three finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to college football's most outstanding defensive player, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday.
Mathieu, a sophomore from New Orleans, is joined on the list of Bednarik Award finalists by Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still.
Mathieu has played a key role for the top-ranked and undefeated Tigers this year. LSU's defense goes into the Arkansas game ranked second in the nation in three categories - total defense (247.91 yards per game), scoring (10.0 points per game) and pass efficiency (92.33 rating). LSU is also No. 3 nationally in rush defense (89.64 yards per game) and No. 5 in pass defense (158.27 yards per game).
In 10 games, Mathieu ranks second on the team with 58 tackles to go with 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also has two interceptions, seven pass breakups, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Mathieu returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in a 35-7 win over Kentucky earlier this year. Against Oregon in the season-opener he recorded 10 tackles and returned a fumble 3-yards for a touchdown in the 40-27 LSU victory.
Mathieu earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against Oregon. He was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week after a 6-tackle, 1-interception, 1-fumble recovery effort in the 47-21 win over West Virginia on Sept. 24.
Last year, LSU's Patrick Peterson claimed the Bednarik Trophy on his way to becoming a consensus All-America and the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The winner of the 17th Chuck Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 8, 2011. The formal presentation of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club's Awards Dinner on Friday, March 2, 2012 at the Harrah's Entertainment Complex in Atlantic City, New Jersey.