The winner of this award will be in fine company -- Manti Te'o (2012), Tyrann Mathieu (2011), Patrick Peterson (2010), Ndamukong Suh (2009) and Rey Maualuga (2008) -- and all three candidates have one thing in common: They put a chill down the spine of offensive players everywhere.

To find out the official winners of college football's major awards, tune in to "The Home Depot College Football Awards" show live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 12. Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Tom Rinaldi and Samantha Ponder will host the show, which will originate from the Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney's Boardwalk at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

More: Maxwell | Lou Groza | Outland | Biletnikoff | Ray Guy | Walker | O'Brien | Thorpe

The Bednarik Award nominees

Anthony Barr: The UCLA linebacker is tied for third nationally with 18 solo tackles for loss, and has amassed 62 tackles, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles. ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay recently revealed he was giving an equal grade to Barr as he was South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney. Says McShay, "Barr continues to perform at a high level week in and week out. He has been a dominant all-around player, and his effort is outstanding."

Aaron Donald: The senior defensive tackle from Pittsburgh is having a season to remember. He leads the nation in tackles for loss with 26.5. Add to that 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick and you have an all-around defensive threat. Compare that to Ndamukong Suh's memorable 2009 season: 20.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks over 14 games.

C.J. Mosley: The senior Alabama linebacker has a team-high 102 tackles, including nine for loss. Some say he has been the best player on a team that features Heisman candidate AJ McCarron. Mosley's play was key in a 38-17 win over LSU, in which Mosley made 12 tackles, broke up three passes and helped pull off a fake punt with the score tied 17-17 that catapulted the Tide to victory. "I trust C.J. to do anything," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game.

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