Matakevich receives national honors

Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich won the Bednarik Award, which is given to the best defensive player in college football, Thursday.

The senior linebacker is the first player in program history to win the award and the first player from a Group of 5 school to win the award.

Monday, Matakevich also won the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the top defensive player in college football. Other winners include former University of Michigan defensive back and Heisman Trophy Winner Charles Woodson (1997) and former Boston College University linebacker Luke Kuechly (2012).

Matakevich had 126 total tackles and 15 tackles for loss this season. He also has totaled 41/2 sacks and five interceptions.

The linebacker has recorded at least 100 tackles in each of his four seasons at Temple.

The other Bronko Nagurski Award finalists were Penn State senior defensive end Carl Nassib and Alabama senior linebacker Reggie Ragland.

Matakevich, Owls honored by conference

Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich and six of his teammates were named to the first team Alll-American Athletic Conference.

Matakevich, who was the only first-team all-conference unanimous selection, received The American’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The senior has 118 tackles this season, including 141/2 tackles for loss, and five interceptions.

“It’s quite an honor,” Matakevich said in a press release. “I said it before and it’s no different now. I’m able to make plays because my coaches put me in the right position and my teammates take on blockers to free me up. I’m prouder that Temple had more all-conference selections than any single award I have received.”

Other first team all-conference defensive selections included redshirt-senior defensive lineman Nate D. Smith, senior defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis and senior defensive back Alex Wells.

On the other side of the ball senior offensive lineman Kyle Friend and Eric Lofton and junior running back Jahad Thomas were named to The American’s first team.

In his first season as the team’s primary running back, Thomas is The American’s No. 3 leading rusher with 1,188 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“It means a lot, knowing the work that the team and I put in during the offseason, to have the success we’re having over the year, and having the chance to play for a championship this week,” Thomas said in a press release. “It’s been great. We’re having so much fun this season, and I love everybody here, and how hard they push me and how we’ve pushed each other to get to this point in the season.”

Other honorees included sophomore defensive back Sean Chandler and junior offensive lineman Dion Dawkins, who received second team honors, and redshirt-junior defensive lineman Haason Reddick, who was an honorable mention.