Former PSU linebacker Paul Posluszny won the Bednarik Award in 2005 and 2006.
"It's the reason I went to Penn State, because it's Linebacker U.," Connor said. "To be even mentioned in the same breath at Jack Ham, Paul Posluszny and Shane Conlan, it's an unbelievable honor."
Connor led Penn State with 136 tackles during the regular season, in the process breaking Posluszny's year-old school record for career stops. He was a first-team All-Big Ten pick.
Earlier in the night, Connor was named to the Walter Camp All-America team.
Upon receiving the Bednarik, Connor said PSU head coach Joe Paterno instilled a blue-collar attitude in him that helped him succeed on the field. He also thanked his position coach for the Lions, Ron Vanderlinden.
"He's the best linebackers coach in the country," Connor said. "And there might be another [Bednarik Award winner] on the way with Sean Lee next year."
Connor was named the FightOnState.com Penn State Defensive Player of the Year last week. That honor is voted on by Nittany Lion fans.
The Bednarik Award is presented by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. It has been given every season since 1994.
The only other Lion to capture the Bednarik was linebacker LaVar Arrington, who did so in 1999. Teammate Courtney Brown, a defensive end, was a finalist for the trophy in '99.