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Rookie LB Tyler Matakevich Shares Good Company As College Award Winner

When you look back at the impressive career that new Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich had a Temple you will not only see that he registered nearly 500 total tackles but that he also won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award last season. Both of those awards have now been around for at least 20 years and the long list of past winners certainly puts Matakevich in good company.

“You watch Temple play, he makes all of the tackles,” head coach Mike Tomlin said following the selection of Matakevich. “I think he won the Chuck Bednarik Award this year. They don’t hand that out to anyone, particularly a guy who comes from a smaller program like Temple.”

As you can clearly see by looking at the two lists below of the past winners of these two prestigious college defensive awards, several of the players listed went on to be drafted by NFL teams in either the first or second rounds. Matakevich, however, and the 2014 winner of the two awards, Scooby Wright, were both drafted this year in the seventh round. Why? Because while both players put up phenomenal stats during their college careers, neither have prime measurables.

“There’s nothing I can do about my size. It’s the film. I think I put enough [on] film for the past four years for them to see that my size doesn’t matter,” Matakevich said at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. “I understand I’m not the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, but I’ll beat you in the film room. … I think that’s what makes me such a special player and that’s what is going to allow me to get to the next level.”

Now that Matakevich is indeed at the next level with the Steelers it’s up to him to continue to prove his doubters wrong by sticking there as he’s not guaranteed a spot on the teams final 53-man roster being as he was a late-round draft pick. With that said, none of us should probably find it very surprising to have heard Steelers defensive back coach Carnell Lake say the things he said about Matakevich over the weekend.

“There’s a kid I’ve been looking at that I really kinda like, we call him ‘Dirty Red.’ The kid from Temple,” Lake said.

Interesting enough, should Matakevich ultimately make the Steelers final 53-man roster during his rookie season, he’ll have a great shot at doing what only three other players on both of these lists have managed to do and that’s win a Lombardi Trophy.

Chuck Bednarik Award Past Winners
1995 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern
1996 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern
1997 Charles Woodson Michigan
1998 Dat Nguyen Texas A&M
1999 LaVar Arrington Penn State
2000 Dan Morgan Miami
2001 Julius Peppers North Carolina
2002 E. J. Henderson Maryland
2003 Teddy Lehman Oklahoma
2004 David Pollack Georgia
2005 Paul Posluszny Penn State
2006 Paul Posluszny Penn State
2007 Dan Connor Penn State
2008 Rey Maualuga USC
2009 Ndamukong Suh Nebraska
2010 Patrick Peterson LSU
2011 Tyrann Mathieu LSU
2012 Manti Te’o Notre Dame
2013 Aaron Donald Pittsburgh
2014 Scooby Wright III Arizona
2015 Tyler Matakevich Temple

Bronko Nagurski Trophy Past Winners
1993 Rob Waldrop Arizona
1994 Warren Sapp Miami (FL)
1995 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern
1996 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern
1997 Charles Woodson Michigan
1998 Champ Bailey Georgia
1999 Corey Moore Virginia Tech
2000 Dan Morgan Miami (FL)
2001 Roy Williams Oklahoma
2002 Terrell Suggs Arizona State
2003 Derrick Strait Oklahoma
2004 Derrick Johnson Texas
2005 Elvis Dumervil Louisville
2006 James Laurinaitis Ohio State
2007 Glenn Dorsey LSU
2008 Brian Orakpo Texas
2009 Ndamukong Suh Nebraska
2010 Da’Quan Bowers Clemson
2011 Luke Kuechly Boston College
2012 Manti Te’o Notre Dame
2013 Aaron Donald Pittsburgh
2014 Scooby Wright III Arizona
2015 Tyler Matakevich Temple

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