Temple's Matakevich wins Bednarik Award

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Temple Owls linebacker Tyler Matakevich (8) reacts after a turnover on downs against the Memphis Tigers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Temple Owls won 31-12.

Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich can only hope that his Owls team fares as well in the Boca Raton Bowl against Toledo as he has done on the awards circuit this week.

On Thursday Matakevich was named the winner of the Maxwell Club's Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player. Matakevich was a finalist along with Penn State defensive end and Malvern Prep graduate Carl Nassib and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.

The winner was named during ESPN's awards show at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

"This is such an unbelievable experience and such an honor to get this award and be up here with all these unbelievable athletes," Matakevich said in his ESPN interview.

Matakevich will lead Temple (10-3) into the Boca Raton Bowl against Toledo on Dec. 22. With 126 tackles, Matakevich is one of seven players in Football Bowl Subdivision history to record 100 or more tackles all four years of his career. This season he has also had five interceptions, 41/2 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss.

"It means the world to me to go from 2-10 and 6-6 and have the season we are having this year," Matakevich said. "I don't think anybody would have thought a kid from Temple would be up here representing Temple University, Temple football, but it has been such a special experience and I am so grateful for it."

Matakevich is also the active NCAA leader with 481 career tackles, and this year he is the only FBS player to lead his team in tackles each game.

The Bednarik Award, named for former University of Pennsylvania and Eagles star Chuck Bednarik, is the second national award that Matakevich has won this week. On Monday, he was named the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and Charlotte Touchdown Club.

Also on Thursday Matakevich was named a first-team Walter Camp all-American. Nassib and Ragland, the other Bednarik finalists, were also named to the first team.

Last week Matakevich was named the American Athletic Conference's defensive player of the year.

Matakevich is also a finalist for the Lott Impact Award, which honors college football's defensive player of the year who best exemplifies integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity. The winner will be named Dec. 13 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif.

Matakevich will be honored at the Maxwell Club's National Awards Gala at the Tropicana Casino Resort in Atlantic City on March 11.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard 

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