Ohio State DL Bennett a candidate for Senior CLASS Award

Bennett is a true senior who has played in 37 games with 17 starts. He has recorded 75 career tackles, including 19.5 tackles-for-loss and also has a team-high 11 quarterback sacks.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senior co-captain Michael Bennett has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in college football. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition.

Bennett, a Centerville, Ohio, native, is a force as an interior defensive lineman and a team-leader off the field and is the son of parents who each graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Bennett is a true senior who has played in 37 games with 17 starts. He has recorded 75 career tackles, including 19.5 tackles-for-loss and also has a team-high 11 quarterback sacks. Last season, Bennett had his best statistical year with 42 tackles, 11.5 TFL, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as the Buckeyes went 12-2, won the Big Ten East Division for the second consecutive year and earned a berth in the Discover Orange Bowl. One of seven returning starters on defense, Bennett helped Ohio State’s defense rank 9th in the NCAA in rush defense.

Off the field, Bennett goes above and beyond in the community, participating in a variety of community service projects. In the past year, Bennett and his teammates have volunteered their time at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and paid a visit to campers at King Arts Complex in Columbus, reading, playing and interacting with local kids. Bennett also has attended the Columbus Special Olympics, taking part in the opening ceremonies and cheering kids on during competition. Last summer, Bennett and his teammates helped rebuild the playgrounds at Graham Expeditionary Middle School in Columbus and also visited sick kids at Columbus Children’s Hospital.

Watch: Curtis Samuel's acrobatic touchdown run

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January.