We are now two months away from the Hokies’ season opener on Labor Day Night against Ohio State, which also means that preseason award lists for college football are starting to come out. Over the next 10 days, 16 different awards will release watch lists for the upcoming season.
Today, one of the two awards that released its watch list was the Chuck Bednarik Award, and two Hokies were included on the watch list for the award that goes to the best defensive player in the country.
Those two players were junior cornerback Kendall Fuller and senior defensive end Dadi Nicolas.
It is no surprise that either player made this watch list especially since a total of 70 players were included on this list. However, Fuller and Nicolas both seem like two players that can be semifinalists for this award this season with both having the potential to have the type of season that it would take to win this award.
2014 was the first season for Dadi Nicolas as a starter and he thrived with an impressive 72 tackles, 18.5 total tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and two blocked kicks. Despite these impressive numbers, Nicolas was snubbed from the All-ACC First Team, but still received recognition on the second team.
This season, Nicolas is a sure bet to be on the Preseason All-ACC First Team as the best returning defensive end in the conference. Nicolas is one of the top 8 to 10 defensive ends in all of college football and has a reasonable chance of at least being a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
After strong freshman and sophomore seasons, Kendall Fuller has the potential to go down as the best defensive back to ever play for the Hokies. Fuller received many Second Team All-America honors and was All-ACC First Team with 54 tackles, 4.5 total tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 15 pass breakups. Fuller’s interceptions were down from 6 in 2013, but that may have been due to how he played with a fractured wrist for most of the season.
Fuller is certain to be a Preseason All-American with Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves at the cornerback spot. Fuller is arguably the best defensive back in all of college football and has the talent to win an award like this in 2015. Fuller is also already seen as one of the top 15 prospects eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft, and seems like one of the surest bets to stay rated as a high first-round pick.
Kendall Fuller and Dadi Nicolas are very deserving of this honor and both will receive many more preseason honors before the Hokies play Ohio State two months from today.