Five Big Ten student-athletes were named semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's most outstanding player, and the Bednarik Award, honoring the country's top defensive standout. Three finalists for each award will be announced on Nov. 21.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award. Twenty players from current Big Ten institutions have earned the Maxwell Award, most recently when Penn State running back Larry Johnson was honored in 2002.
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still were tabbed as semifinalists for the Bednarik Award. Current Big Ten schools have claimed eight Bednarik Awards, including two-time honorees Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995 and 1996) and Paul Posluszny of Penn State (2005 and 2006).