It’s no secret to Vol fans that Nigel Warrior is a special player. The talented safety was a bright spot for Tennessee in a historically bad 2017 season. That talent is now being recognized at a national level.
Warrior was named to a watch list for the Bednarik Award, the award given annually to college football’s top defender. Tennessee made the announcement on Monday.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) July 16, 2018
The award was established in 1995 and is named after College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik.
Warrior, the son of former Vol Dale Carter, came on to campus as one of the most coveted players in the 2016 class. He was a composite four-star per 247Sports, and he was a top-60 overall recruit in the country.
Warrior’s impact was truly felt last year as a sophomore. He totaled 83 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in his second year. Additionally, he picked a ball off against Missouri and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
He finished second on the team in tackles last season, placing only behind linebacker Daniel Bituli, who tallied 90.
According to Pro Football Focus’ 2017 grades, Warrior is the top returning player for the Vols. In just over 800 snaps, Warrior graded out with an overall of rating of 81.2, which is in the “very good” category according to their metrics. He was targeted just 21 times last season by opposing quarterbacks, and he never gave up a touchdown.
Warrior is certain to play a major role in the 2018 season, and with a better coaching staff, he should be even better this season.
The Bednarik Award, presented by The Maxwell Football Club, is voted on by head coaches, members of the Maxwell Football Club, and sportswriters and sportscasters from across the country.
Warrior is the first Vol to be featured on the preseason watch list since Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton, and Derek Barnett all were named to the preseason watch list in 2016.
No Vol has ever won the award, though Kevin Burnett was a semi-finalist in 2004, and Eric Berry in 2008. Nigel Warrior will try and make Tennessee football history in 2018.