CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy – presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club – were named on Wednesday.
In alphabetical order, the finalists are: Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, LSU safety Grant Delpit, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient will be chosen from these five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., 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, sponsored by the Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery. Ohio State’s 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.
Here is more information on the 2018 finalists, listed in alphabetical order:
Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky (6-5, 260, Sr., Montclair, N.J.): Allen has hampered opposing offenses as a pass-rush specialist on the edge. He leads the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss, which is also 11th in the nation. His 11 sacks are third nationally and he is one full sack shy of the Kentucky single-season record. Another half-sack would tie him (25.5 at present) as the Wildcats’ all-time career leader. Allen gets progressively better during the game – nine of his 11 sacks have come in the second half with six of them in the fourth quarter – and he is a takeaway producer with five forced fumbles, second in the nation. His 65 total tackles have helped him be named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week four times.
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan (5-11, 222, Jr., Penbroke Pines, Fla.): Bush is Michigan’s ball-hawking tackle leader (61) on the nation’s leader in total defense (219.8 yards per game). He’s always around the ball on a defense that has allowed 338 fewer yards than any team in the country; his 32 assists lead the team and his 29 solo tackles are second. Bush is the Wolverines’ leader with 8.0 tackles for loss and has had at least one tackle for loss in six games. He tied a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss against Nebraska to go with a season-high nine tackles. His 4.5 sacks are second on the team and Bush has contributed seven or more tackles in six games while breaking up 4.5 passes.
Grant Delpit, S, LSU (6-3, 203, So., Houston, Texas): One of this season’s top underclassmen at any position, Delpit leads the SEC and is tied for third in the nation with five interceptions. He also leads the SEC in passes defensed (11) on a defense that leads the SEC and is sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense (98.28 rating). Delpit is third on the team in tackles with 63 and leads in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (9.5, 14th nationally). He’s recorded double-digit tackles in three games with a career-high of 10 against Auburn this season when he also had two interceptions and a sack to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 15.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (6-4, 300, Gr., Springfield, Mass.): A standout player, even as part of a defensive line featuring four returning All-Americans. Wilkins was an FWAA First-Team All-America selection in 2016. He has 10.5 tackles for loss, second on the team, to go with three sacks and 40 tackles (29 solo) for the season. Clemson was No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss in the first two of Wilkins’ three prior seasons in the middle and was No. 6 last year. His 13.5 stops behind the line have resulted in 67 yards of losses. Wilkins will play in his 54th career game Saturday against Duke. Wilkins graduated in 2017 with a degree in communications in only two-and-a-half years.
Quinnen Williams, NG, Alabama (6-4, 295, So., Birmingham, Ala.): The upstart sophomore leads Alabama with 14.0 tackles for loss for minus-58 yards and is tied for 11th in the SEC with 5.0 sacks and a 0.5 sacks per game average. He too posted a career game against LSU, tallying career highs in tackles (10) and sacks (2.5) and tying a career high in tackles for loss (3.5). Williams, who earned the Outland Trophy Defensive Player of the Month for October, clogs the middle and allows those around him to create havoc – Alabama has had at least 10 tackles for loss in five of 10 games and in three straight. The Crimson Tide’s 36 team sacks and 3.60 sacks per game are both tied for No. 3 nationally. Has been named a defensive player of the week by the Alabama coaching staff eight times in 10 games.
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 college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB AND ITS SPONSORS
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 email@example.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.
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.
About Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery
Dr. Richard R. Rolle Jr. is a leading oral & maxillofacial surgeon, with strong ties to athletics and delivering excellence. Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery offers expertise in: dental implants, wisdom tooth extraction, youth-capturing, cosmetic injectables, oral surgery and cleft lip reconstruction in his Lake Norman, North Carolina practice. Dr. Rolle holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame where he played varsity football under legendary Coach Lou Holtz. He completed his oral surgery internship at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College. Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery is the official surgeon for the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Checkers and Charlotte 49ers.
• All-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy winners and finalists