Now that all the postseason awards are done, we can do a quick wrap-up. And that summary is easy: Payton Wilson was the best defensive player in college football in 2023.
After having been snubbed for the Bronco Nagurski Award in favor of a less deserving player, Wilson won the 2023 Chuck Bednarik Award, an honor bestowed on the top defensive college football player.
As you might expect from college football’s best defender, Wilson has also earned 1st Team All-American honors from dang near every publication in the country... or at least those who actually watch the games.
Understandably, Wilson also took home his fair share of hardware during NC State’s team award ceremony, earning the Bill Cowher Award (top linebacker) and Governor’s Award (MVP).
Wilson wasn’t the only Wolfpack player to be honored as the best in the country at his position. Long snapper Joe Shimko was awarded the Patrick Mannelly Award for being the nation’s best long snapper.
The awards haven’t just been for the players, either. Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers coach Tony Gibson won 247sports’ National LB Coach of the Year honors.
The recognition is well earned given the midseason turnaround the team performed to reach the nine win threshold for the fourth time in the last nine years. That school down the road in Chapel Hill has half that number of nine win campaigns over the last quarter century. Post season recognition is the name of the game in Raleigh. Preseason hype cuts it elsewhere, I guess.