CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois defensive end Oluwole Betiku Jr. was added to the Bednarik Award watch list, the award announced Wednesday. The Bednarik Award is presented to the college defensive player of the year at the College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12.
Betiku has had a strong start to the 2019 season, ranking third in the nation in sacks (1.4) and TFLs (2.1) per game. He had a career-high 3.5 sacks at UConn in the second game of the season, tied for the fifth-most sacks in a single game in Illinois history.
Betiku has totaled 23 tackles (14 solo), 10.5 TFLs, 7.0 sacks, five quarterback hurries, and two fumble recoveries in the first five games of 2019. His 7.0 sacks already are more than or equal to Illinois’ season leader in 18 of the last 23 seasons.
The watch list was originally compiled during the preseason based on 2018 performances. Betiku did not play in a game last season at USC due to offseason hip surgery, before transferring to Illinois and enrolling in grad school.