The Bednarik Award goes to the top defensive player in college football each season.
For Jeffcoat the Bednarik Award mention is just the latest indication of what's expected from the senior who missed half of last season with a ruptured pectoral muscle. Certainly, what's he's accomplished on the field to date would indicate that he has that kind of potential.
Jeffcoat (6-5 245) had 11 tackles for loss and four sacks in six games, following a season where he was named second-team All-Big 12 after making 71 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks. When Jeffcoat is on, he's been a dominant player, the kind of defender who can swing a game off the edge with the kind of pressure and big plays he's capable of creating.
That tantalizing potential has been realized at times, and has been perhaps best reflected in Jeffcoat's NFL stock. Despite copious production from Alex Okafor, Jeffcoat has always been considered the better pro prospect and many project him as a first-round pick if he produces at the expected level this season.
Some of his production will depend on how the other end spot develops. Cedric Reed had a really nice spring and has shown flashes, and the Longhorns have some younger ends in the pipeline who can help from a depth standpoint as well.
But the biggest issue with Jeffcoat has always been, and may always be, whether he's able to stay healthy. He's been dinged up in some respect in each of his three seasons in Austin, from an ankle injury as a freshman to a left pectoral injury in his sophomore season and the right pectoral rupture last season. The last injury kept him out through spring football, not a huge deal with a player as experienced as Jeffcoat is.
The real key will be whether he misses time in the fall. Jeffcoat is a transcendent talent, a former five-star recruit and a likely long-term NFL player. If he can stay healthy, and play to his ability level, the Longhorn defense gets that much better.