The Carolina football season is still a month and a half away, but the preseason hype continues to build as a trio of Tar Heels was named Monday to watch lists for prestigious national awards.

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Senior bandit Norkeithus Otis was placed on the short list for the 20th annual Chuck Bednarik Award.

The Bednarik Award is presented to the nation’s premier college football defensive player of the year.

A season ago, Otis burst onto the scene with an impressive 2013 campaign that featured 7.5 sacks and 49 total tackles, including 13 for a loss. Additionally, he was second at UNC with nine quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. In short, he was a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Norkeithus Otis caused a Miami turnover on this play.

Norkeithus Otis caused a Miami turnover on this play.

Bednarik, the award’s namesake, was a standout performer at the University of Pennsylvania and then later in the NFL at the Philadelphia Eagles. Bednarik has been enshrined in both the college football and NFL hall of fames.

For Otis to be up for such an award in his final go-around in a Carolina uniform, speaks volumes to the drastic improvement made by the native of Gastonia who was relegated to special teams duty his first two seasons in Chapel Hill.

On the other side of the ball, two UNC offensive playmakers are making national noise.

The Louisville Sports Commission tabbed both running back T.J. Logan and return specialist and wideout Ryan Switzer to the 2014 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award.

Ryan Switzer

Ryan Switzer

Now in its fifth season, the Hornung Award is doled out to the most versatile player on the NCAA gridiron.

Players on this year’s watch list tallied 9,799 rushing yards, 21,281 receiving yards, 18,353 kickoff return yards and 4,104 punt return yards in 2013.

And Carolina’s Switzer and Logan accounted for quite a few of those special teams numbers last season. Switzer accounted for 419 yards in punt return yardage, an ACC high, while Logan amassed 391 yards off kickoffs.

The book is out on this talented trio. These three Carolina gridiron greats won’t be sneaking up on anyone in 2014.