USC senior linebacker Rey Maualuga was named the winner of the 2008 Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to college football's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club.
He is the first USC player to win the trophy.
On the year, Maualuga has a team-best 73 tackles, including 2.5 for losses, plus 3 deflections and 2 interceptions (1 was returned for a TD). He has been named a 2008 All-American first teamer and he was among 4 finalists for the 2008 Lombardi Award, 5 finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and 12 finalists for the Butkus Award.
He spearheads a USC defense that is ranked first nationally in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense and fifth in rushing defense. The Trojans have allowed just 11 touchdowns in 2008 and 93 total points (only 22 points in second halves of games), and have posted three shutouts. Ten of USC's 12 opponents in 2008 have been limited to 100 or less rushing yards and under 250 total yards.