NC State LB Payton Wilson Wins 2023 Bednarik Award

    Payton Wilson took home the Bednarik Award after a dominant 2023 season that saw him beat out two other incredibly worthy finalists for the honor.

    It’s official, Payton Wilson is the winner of the 2023 Chuck Bednarik Award. Announced on Friday night during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, Wilson was given the prestigious award given out to the nation’s top defensive player from the past season.

    Payton Wilson Wins Bednarik Award

    In a star-studded cast of defensive performers this year, the race to win the Bednarik was as close as it has been in recent history. Each of the three finalists had their claim to the award, and each of them had their moments of elite play in 2023.

    In the end, it was Wilson who took home the hardware.

    The heart and soul of the NC State defense in 2023, Wilson meant everything to NC State’s success. Ripping through blocks or patrolling the field in coverage, Wilson couldn’t be stopped. He recorded a career-high in every defensive figure this past season, including 138 tackles, three interceptions, six sacks, and three combined fumbles forced and recovered.

    Named to the CFN All-American list, Wilson was also awarded our CFN ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

    MORE: List of Bednarik Award Winners by Year

    Wilson won the Bednarik Award over Laiatu Latu and Dallas Turner.

    Latu recorded a whopping 13 sacks in 2023. The UCLA Bruins defensive end was a force to be reckoned with on the field and forced two fumbles to go with two interceptions to round out an all-around dominant year.

    He was also awarded the Lombardi Trophy ahead of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

    Turner had his eyes on the College Football Playoffs but was able to divert his attention to the Bednarik Award’s final three presentation after recording nine sacks in 2023. Largely seen as one of the top defensive players in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, Turner put forth a dominant display week in and week out for Alabama in 2023.

    All three defenders were absolutely warranted of their final three spot, and one could say that either of these finalists could have been just as deserving of the Bednarik Award all the same.

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