Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen, a former standout at East Lake, was named to the 2020 Bednarik Award watch list.
Hansen, who made the cut for the first time, is the only local player on the list.
The Chuck Bednarik Award, named after the former Pennsylvania star, is presented annually to the defensive player of the year in college football.
Last season, Hansen recorded 72 tackles, 7.5 for loss. He also forced seven fumbles, recovering three. Those numbers helped Hansen become a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given each to the nation’s top linebacker.
And he did that despite missing the final four games of the season with an injury.
Before Hansen’s season ended, he led the nation in forced fumbles and was second in fumble recoveries.
This season, the senior is expected to become a middle linebacker on Lovie Smith’s defense.