The watch lists for football awards have begun, and Michigan has a pair of performers on the initial targeting docket for the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award. Senior defensive end Frank Clark and fifth-year senior linebacker Jake Ryan drew notice.
The Bednarik Award goes to the college defensive player of the year. Michigan's two performers are among 10 from the Big Ten on the watch list.
Clark earned second-team All-Big Ten notice last season, starting all 13 Michigan games as a junior. He managed 43 tackles, including 12 tackles-for-loss, good for 11th in the Big Ten. He was also 16th in the conference with 4.5 sacks, along with supplying a pair of fumble recoveries.
Clark notched a career-high nine tackles at Michigan State, and matched a career best with 2.5 tackles-for-loss at Iowa. In his career, he's posted 21.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, an interception and seven pass breakups.
Ryan fought his way back to play last season following a knee injury in spring back, involving a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The team captain wound up posting 30 tackles, 4.5 for loss, over Michigan's last eight games.
A year earlier, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, with 88 tackles including 16 TFLs and 4.5 sacks. He also tied Michigan's single-season record by forcing four fumbles in 2012. Ryan has posted 155 career tackles, 31.5 TFLs with 7.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four pass breakups.
Semifinalists for the award will be announced Nov. 3, with three finalists named Nov. 24. The winner will be revealed on the Home Deport College Football Awards Show on ESPN next Dec. 11.