The Chuck Bednarik Award is presented annually to the best defensive collegiate football player in the United States, as judged by the Maxwell Football Club. Its previous winners include former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington, former University of North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, former University of Miami (Fla.) defensive lineman Warren Sapp and former University of Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.
The Dick Butkus Award is given annually to the top linebacker in college football by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. Its previous winners include former University of Texas linebacker Derrick O. Johnson and former Miami (Fla.) linebacker Dan Morgan.
Now try to name the most recent winner of both awards in the same year.
Enter Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny: 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, a two-time recipient of the Bednarik Award and one-time Butkus honoree. Posluszny joined Arrington as the only players in Penn State history to win both awards, which he did in 2005. He may be physically capable of doing anything on the field.
Following a stellar high school career, Posluszny chose to play at Pennsylvania State University under head coach Joe Paterno, who has quite a track record of fostering star linebackers. Posluszny was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team by The Sporting News, finishing his one-start season with 36 tackles and one interception. In 2004, he led Penn State with 104 tackles, and his 9.5 tackles per game were tied for fifth in the Big Ten. "Poz" became the first junior captain at Penn State since 1968, leading the Nittany Lions to a victory in the 2006 Orange Bowl. However, his season ended on a sour note as he was forced to leave the bowl game in the fourth quarter with two partially torn ligaments in his knee. That forced him to reconsider, and ultimately skip, the 2006 National Football League Draft.
Poz returned to accumulate 116 tackles in his senior year, raising his total to 372 tackles made over 44 games played; he now holds the school record for tackles. The two-time AP All-America now aspires to play professionally in the NFL.
One of Posluszny's greatest attributes is his natural extinct, which allows him to excel at all of the necessarily skills at his position. He is able to use his senses to diagnose and react to the offensive action, making him a tremendously intelligent player. When defending against the run, Poz demonstrates fantastic sideline-to-sideline range and good speed. He runs an estimated 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Posluszny is also a better-than-average pass rusher and a reliable tackler. Nonetheless, Posluszny's uncanny mental ability and natural physical talent is his greatest asset. He has an intense work ethic, a nonstop engine on the field and a very physically aggressive mentality in his play. With his experience as a captain at Penn State, Poz also possesses the characteristics of a team leader and playmaker.
Posluszny could afford to pack on more weight to his 237-pound frame, but size should not be too big of a problem. He sometimes will play out of control as a result of his aggressive nature. However, the major concern about Posluszny is his ability to shed blockers and find his way to the ball. He is also only average in coverage.
At this point, Posluszny should be selected late in the first round or very early in the second round, as a result of preceding team needs and the talent available this year at other positions.
About James Li
James Li has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.
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