DALLAS (SMU) – SMU senior defensive end Justin Lawler has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Club announced Monday. The award is presented annually to the College Defensive Player of the Year.

Lawler has played in played in 36 games, including 24 starts in his three seasons on the Hilltop. The Pottsboro, Texas, native was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference last season after leading SMU in both sacks (6.0), tackles for loss (15) and finishing second in tackles (65). Lawler also registered seven quarterback hurries, two blocked field goals and a fumble recovery. Lawler was also one of seven Mustangs named to the 2017 preseason Athlon Sports All-AAC team. He was also named to College Football News’ preseason All-AAC defensive team and listed as No. 5 on their Top 30 players list.

SMU opens the 2017 season on Sept. 2 against Stephen F. Austin at Ford Stadium. The Mustangs’ home slate features seven games including 2016 bowl teams Tulsa, UCF, Arkansas State and North Texas. Also visiting the Hilltop will be American Athletic Conference foes Tulane and Connecticut. Season tickets are still available for as little as $99. For Mustang ticket information, call the Athletics Department Ticket Office at (214) SMU-GAME (768-4263).

About the Chuck Bednarik Award
The Chuck Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of ’69 and the NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of ’67.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards will be announced October 30, 2017, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 20, 2017. The winners of the 2017 Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on December 7, 2017. The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 9, 2018.

For more on the Chuck Bednarik Award and a list of past recipients, visit