The SEC is well represented on the 2011 watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes annually to the nation's top defensive player.
Of the 65 players on the list for the Bednarik Award, 18 were from the SEC. Former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson won the 2010 Bednarik Award.
Here's a rundown of the SEC players on the 2011 watch list:
LB Ryan Baker, LSU
S Mark Barron, Alabama
DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas
CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia
CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
LB Jerry Franklin, Arkansas
CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt
LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
DT Jaye Howard, Florida
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
S Robert Lester, Alabama
LB Chris Marve, Vanderbilt
LB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
S Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee
Not surprisingly, Alabama has five players on the list (the most in the country) and LSU three players. The Crimson Tide and Tigers figure to be the top two defenses in the league this season. The only three SEC teams that didn't have players to make the list were Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
I'm a little surprised that Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett, Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas weren't on the list.
Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson is a bit of a wild card because he dropped out of school and didn't go through spring practice as he was dealing with personal problems. However, the Vols' coaches expect him back in the fall. The other one to watch is Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie, who might be poised for a breakout season now that he's fully healthy.