Fowler, Hargreaves on Bednarik watch list

Florida defensive end Dante Fowler and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves were named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.

Florida defensive end Dante Fowler is expected to have his breakout season this fall and people are starting to take notice. There were times when the elite potential was easy to see from Fowler, but it wasn’t consistent enough. Last season ended with 10.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks by Fowler.

The coaches challenged him in the spring to attack every practice with the right mindset and want to become special. They were happy with the results.

“The biggest difference with Dante is his consistency,” Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “We can all look at last year and say there were games where he played really, really well, was almost a dominant player. And there were games where that wasn’t there. That was our challenge to him going into spring ball and going into next season.

“He’s playing really determined. He understands. He sees it the same way. He took that challenge the right way. He was great all spring. He’s stepped up as a leader as well. He’s leading by example.”

Vernon Hargreaves stole the show on the Florida defense to start last season. He intercepted a pass in three of the team’s first four games last year before opposing teams started to realize they should look for other players to attack. He started the final 10 games of the year and was named the National Defensive Freshman of the Year by College Football news.

His postseason accolades last season are now leading into preseason awards this summer. Hargreaves added 11 pass breakups and 38 tackles last season. The coaches were hoping his strong freshman year would help him become a leader on the defense, and it didn’t take long for that to happen.

“Vernon Hargreaves is a great leader -- a guy that works hard every day in the offseason program,” Will Muschamp said.

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