Stewart earns spot on 2022 Bednarik Award preseason watch list

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The preseason accolades continue to pour in for Coastal Carolina sophomore Josaiah Stewart, as the second-year Chant was named to the 2022 Bednarik Award preseason watch list, The Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday, Aug. 1.

The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1994 and is named in honor of Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik who was an All-American player at the University of Pennsylvania and later a multiple-year All-Pro linebacker and center for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and was the last NFL player to be a full-time player on both offense and defense.

Tabbed the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches and media, Stewart also picked up preseason All-Sun Belt first-team honors and earned a spot on the 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list following a record-setting freshman campaign in 2021.

A 2021 Freshman All-American, earning a spot on the FWAA Freshman All-America team, ESPN’s 2021 College Football True Freshman All-American team, 247Sports True Freshman All-American, The Athletic’s 2021 College Football Freshman All-American team, and the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) All-True Freshman team, Stewart was also a 2021 Phil Steele All-American honorable mention selection last year as a true freshman. He was named the 2021 Pro Football Network (PFN) Best Interior Defensive Lineman, PFN Sun Belt Defensive Lineman of the Year, and PFN Sun Belt Defensive Rookie of the Year.

A 2021 All-Sun Belt first-team selection, the Massachusetts native shattered the CCU single-season sacks record with 12.5 sacks in his first collegiate season in 2021. His 12.5 sacks led the Sun Belt and were just one shy of the Sun Belt single-season record of 13.5 sacks. They also ranked fifth nationally and were the most by a true freshman in all of FBS on the year. He finished the season with 15.5 tackles-for-loss, which was the second-most in a single season in Coastal history, the most by a true freshman nationally, and ranked sixth in the Sun Belt overall. His 12.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.0 sacks in Sun Belt Conference play led the league.

Stewart recorded 43 total tackles on the year and forced three fumbles. He registered 3.5 sacks in a win over Kansas (Sept. 10) to set CCU’s single-game sacks record before topping that with 4.0 sacks in the road win at Georgia Southern (Nov. 6). He also set a new CCU single-game tackles-for-loss record with 5.0 versus the Eagles.

The Bednarik Award watch list once again incorporates a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast, led by Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) who is the lone returning finalist from 2021, as the majority of this year’s candidate group features fresh faces.

The Maxwell Football Club has once again partnered with Pro Football Focus (PFF), XOS, and Phil Steele Publications as selection committee partners. PFF provides detailed metrics and performance-based assessments to selection committee staff, and several senior PFF analysts are members of our selection committee. Phil Steele’s College Football Preview is generally recognized as the most complete preseason magazine. XOS provides the Maxwell Club selection committee with access to game footage from all FBS colleges.

Semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award will be announced on Nov. 1, while the three finalists for the Bednarik Award will be unveiled on Nov. 22. The winners of the 28th Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 8. The formal presentations of the award will be made at the 86th Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala live from Atlantic City, N.J. on March 10, 2023.

Coastal will kick off the 2022 football season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3, versus Army at 7 p.m. ET.

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