Nine Big Ten defenders have been named to the preseason watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The award goes to the nation's impact defender of the year, who reflects the following qualities: integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
The watch list features 42 players, and the Big Ten boasts the most candidates, followed by the Pac-12 (8) and the ACC and Big 12 (both with 7)
Here's the Big Ten contingent:
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin, Sr.
Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois, Jr.
Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State, Jr.
Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State, Sr.
Jordan Kovacs, S, Michigan, Sr.
John Simon, DE, Ohio State, Sr.
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue, Sr.
Baker Steinkuhler, DT, Nebraska, Sr.
Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin, Sr.
A strong group indeed. Several other Big Ten defenders certainly could be included as well, including Michigan State defensive end William Gholston, Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti and Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan.
Quarterfinalists for the award will be named in late October, and semifinalists will be named in early November. The winner will be announced Dec. 9 in Newport Beach, Calif.
Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt is the last Big Ten player to win the Lott IMPACT Trophy (2010).