2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

97 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 97 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences on a roster that includes three returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Ed Oliver, a junior tackle from the University of Houston and a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist a year ago, joins senior Clemson end Austin Bryant and junior end Sutton Smith of Northern Illinois as returning selections from the 2017 FWAA All-America first team.

Oliver, the 2017 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best interior lineman, is a two-time FWAA All-American after earning second-team mention in 2016. This year’s watch list for the nation’s top defensive player also includes LSU linebacker Devin White and Clemson end Clelin Ferrell, both second-team FWAA All-America selections a year ago, as well as Clemson tackle Christian Wilkins, a 2016 FWAA All-America first team member.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 14.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from each of the 10 FBS conferences. The SEC (16) leads the 97-member list with the Big Ten (15) right behind. The ACC (13) and Pac-12 (12) also have double-digit representation, followed by the Big 12 (9), American Athletic and Mountain West (7), Conference USA and Independents (5), and the Mid-American and Sun Belt (4).
The list includes 27 backs, 26 linebackers, 24 ends and 20 tackles.


LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech DB Tyler Horton, Boise State
DE Zach Allen, Boston College LB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic DB Michael Jackson, Miami
DB Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia DE Cece Jefferson, Florida
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
DE Ben Banogu, TCU DB Jaquan Johnson, Miami
DT Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
DT Ryan Bee, Marshall DE Corbin Kaufusi, BYU
DB Julian Blackmon, Utah LB Jordan Kunaszyk, California
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
DB Kris Boyd, Texas DE Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn DT Ira Lewis, Baylor
DB Blace Brown, Troy DB Shelton Lewis, Florida Atlantic
DE Austin Bryant, Clemson DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington LB David Long Jr., West Virginia
LB Devin Bush, Michigan DB Julian Love, Notre Dame
DB T.J. Carter, Memphis DB Chase Lucas, Arizona State
DB Justin Clifton, Arkansas State DT David Moa, Boise State
LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame LB James Nachtigal, Army West Point
DT Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
DE Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan DT Ed Oliver, Houston
DE Marlon Davidson, Auburn DB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
DB Lukas Denis, Boston College DB Delvon Randall, Temple
DB D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin DB Taylor Rapp, Washington
LB Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M DE Christian Rector, USC
DE Landis Durham, Texas A&M LB Malik Reed, Nevada
LB Troy Dye, Oregon LB David Reese, Florida
LB Cooper Edmiston, Tulsa DE Hunter Reese, Troy
DB Mike Edwards, Kentucky DT Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech DB Duke Shelley, Kansas State
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB Cameron Smith, USC
DT Greg Gaines, Washington DE Sutton Smith, NIU
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
DT Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming DB Marvell Tell III, USC
DB Kyle Gibson, UCF DB Juan Thornhill, Virginia
DB Mark Gilbert, Duke DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
LB Ulysees Gilbert III, Akron DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke LB Devin White, LSU
DE Carl Granderson, Wyoming DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
LB Terez Hall, Missouri DB Greedy Williams, LSU
LB De’Jon Harris, Arkansas DB Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
DB Tae Hayes, Appalachian State DE Chase Winovich, Michigan
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
DT Trysten Hill, UCF DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo

By conference: SEC 16, Big Ten 15, ACC 13, Pac-12 12, Big 12 9, American Athletic 7, Mountain West 7, Conference USA 5, Independents 5, Mid-American 4, Sun Belt 4.

By position: Backs 27, Linebackers 26, Ends 24, Tackles 20.

Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Dec. 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award. Ohio State linebacker Tom Cousineau, a member of the FWAA’s 1977 All-America team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 10-day period this month. Seventeen of the association’s 24 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the entire 2018 preseason watch list calendar:

  • Mon., July 16: Bednarik Award/Maxwell Award
  • Tues., July 17: Davey O’Brien Award
  • Wed., July 18: Doak Walker Award
  • Thurs., July 19: Biletnikoff Award
  • Fri., July 20: Mackey Award/Rimington Trophy
  • Mon., July 23: Paycom Jim Thorpe Award/Butkus Award
  • Tues., July 24: Outland Trophy presented by NFID/Bronko Nagurski Trophy
  • Wed., July 25: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
  • Thurs., July 26: Paul Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
  • Fri., July 27: Walter Camp Award

About the Football Writers Association of America

Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.


The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1991, the club has raised more than $2,000,000 to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

ACN, Inc.

Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy and essential services for residential and business customers. ACN provides the services people need and use every day including phone service, high-speed internet, wireless, television, security and automation, computer support, payment processing and natural gas and electricity. ACN operates in 25 countries with offices located throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. For more information, visit myacn.com. For information on ACN’s home-based business opportunity, visit acninc.com.

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