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Johnson Named to Bednarik Award Watch List

July 19, 2021  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty’s Durrell Johnson quickly made his mark during his first season with the Flames and is already garnering national attention heading into the 2021 season.

Liberty's Durrell Johnson quickly made his mark during his first season with the Flames and is already garnering national attention heading into the 2021 season.

Liberty's Durrell Johnson quickly made his mark during his first season with the Flames and is already garnering national attention heading into the 2021 season.

Johnson is one of 90 FBS players named to the 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award watch list. The Maxwell Football Club today announced its watch list for the 27th Bednarik Award presented annually to the outstanding defensive player in college football.

The award is proudly sponsored by Mammoth Tech and The Athletes' Corner, which are Executive Partners of the Maxwell Football Club.

The Chuck Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995 and is named in honor of Chuck Bednarik, a former standout at the University of Pennsylvania and with the Philadelphia Eagles. Bednarik is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67.

During his first season with the Flames, Johnson posted a team-leading 11.5 tackles for a loss (74 yards) and 8.5 sacks (65 yards). The junior college transfer ranked No. 28 in the country in sacks per game (0.77).

The native of Baltimore, Md., also finished 2020 with 38 tackles (25 solo, 13 assisted), fourth most on the team. He added six quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and an interception, helping Liberty rank No. 11 nationally in total defense (317.7 yards allowed per game).

The winners of the 2021 Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 9, 2021. The formal presentations of the Maxwell Award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 11, 2022.

Johnson helped Liberty to a season of "firsts" in 2020, including the team's first-ever national ranking, first win over an ACC opponent, the best start in school history (8-0 to start 2020), first-ever win over a top-25 FBS program and back-to-back bowl game wins.

Liberty defeated a pair of ACC foes in Syracuse and in-state opponent Virginia Tech. The two wins made Liberty the first non-Power 5 team to post a pair of wins over ACC schools in the same season since Houston in 2015.

The Flames finished the season with a 10-1 mark, tying the program's record for wins in a season (Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 10-2 record).

Liberty finished the campaign ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the Amway Coaches Poll, the highest year-ending FBS rankings in school history.

Liberty capped off the 2020 season with a thrilling 37-34 overtime win over No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The win marked Liberty's first-ever victory over a FBS top-25 ranked program.

With the Cure Bowl win over its former Big South rivals, Liberty became the second transitioning team in NCAA history to win consecutive bowl games during its first two full seasons at the FBS level.