COLUMBIA — Zaviar Gooden, a junior linebacker on the Missouri football team, is on the Bendarik Award watch list. The award is presented annually to the nation's best defensive college football player in honor of Chuck Bednarik, a member of both the College Football and the NFL Halls of Fame.
Gooden enters the 2011 season as a second-year starter. Last season, Gooden led the Tigers with 85 tackles. He made five or more tackles in every game against FBS competition, including a career-best nine against Kansas State. He had two recovered fumbles, one forced fumble and two interceptions. His fourth-quarter interception in October against Oklahoma was a key part of the Tigers' upset victory over the Sooners.
Gooden is one of six candidates from the Big 12 Conference, including Coryell Judie of Texas A&M, Jake Knott of Iowa State, Travis Lewis of Oklahoma and Kheeston Randall and Keenan Robinson of Texas. The 65 nominees for the award represent all 11 Division 1A conferences.
The semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on Oct. 31 with the three finalists to be revealed on Nov. 21. The winner will be announced on Dec. 8 as part of the ESPNU College Football Awards Show.