Center Ben Habern, also already mentioned on the Rimington Trophy Watch list, and left guard Gabe Ikard joined the ranks on the 71-player preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior lineman in college football.
Cornerback Demontre Hurst and free safety Tony Jefferson, both also listed on the Bednarik Award Watch List, and linebacker Tom Wort found their names on the Nagurski Award, presented to the best defensive player in college football.
Habern, who missed five games in the middle of the 2011 season with a broken wrist and underwent minor offseason back surgery, is back and healthy heading into his senior season.
This will be his third straight season at starting center, as he has opened 30 contests during his career at OU, and despite starting just six last year, Habern still managed to rack up 39 knockdowns on 391 snaps.
Ikard, who shifted into the center role in Habern’s absence last season, returns as an All-Big 12 first team AP and coaches selection after recording 88 knockdowns on 860 snaps.
As for the Nagurski Award watch list recipients, Hurst is coming off a second-team All-Big 12 season in which he recorded 11 pass breakups and 55 tackles.
Jefferson, who made the shift to free under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops after working at nickel and Sam linebacker for Brent Venables, led the team last year with four interceptions, including a single-game record three against Ball State.
Wort, a coaches’ honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2011, is now the ringleader of a linebacking crew and defense that loses star Travis Lewis.
He finished with 71 total tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, plus two interceptions, a pair of pass breakups and a fumble recovery last year.
The Outland Trophy presentation will be held on Jan. 10, 2013 in Omaha, Neb., and it will be sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.
The Nagurski Award will be presented by ACN Dec. 3 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.
Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.