DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 85 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents. The watch list roster includes five returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team including 2021 winner Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama, five of the top 13 tacklers from last season, the top two sack leaders and six of the top 13, and two players in the secondary who each had five interceptions last year.
The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce finalists for the 2022 trophy on Nov. 16 and the winner will be unveiled Dec. 5 at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.
Anderson, the Alabama linebacker who earned consensus All-America status as well as the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, headlines a trio of returning All-Americans coming off First Team honors. Anderson did it all last year for the College Football Playoff runner-up Crimson Tide, leading the nation in sacks with 17.5 to go with 33.5 tackles for loss and 101 total tackles – 57 solos – in his 15-game season. Will McDonald IV, a senior Iowa State defensive end, also returns to the list. McDonald posted 11.5 sacks to tie for seventh nationally last season after tying for the national sack lead in 2020 (10.5) and was the Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big 12 Conference. Steven Jones Jr., a senior safety at App State, is the country’s interception leader after snagging five last season and is one of a record seven players representing the Sun Belt Conference.
From the FWAA’s 2021 Second-Team All-America crew are Iowa teammates Jack Campbell and Riley Moss. Campbell is a senior linebacker who led the nation in tackles with 143 in 14 games and Moss tied for 14th nationally with four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. The Hawkeyes are one of four Big Ten schools and one of 20 overall that had at least a pair of players on the list. Alabama tops the team field with four, with Anderson alongside fellow linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, junior cornerback Eli Ricks and senior safety Jordan Battle. To’oTo’o had 127 tackles last season, tied for 27th nationally. The Crimson Tide have had Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists in nine of the last 11 seasons.
Defending national champion Georgia placed three on the list as the Southeastern Conference led all conferences with 14 selections. The Bulldogs have a player from each front of their defense in junior tackle Jalen Carter, senior linebacker Nolan Smith and sophomore cornerback Kelee Ringo. Georgia’s trio ties Clemson for the second-most by any team with the Tigers posting standout linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy on the list along with junior linebacker Trenton Simpson.
Coming off its standout defensive season that propelled it into the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati also boasts a pair of linebacking brothers on the list in Ivan Pace and Deshawn Pace. Ivan Pace is a senior transfer from Miami (Ohio) and was a first-team All-MAC selection after his 125 tackles listed 10th in the nation. He once tied an NCAA record with six sacks against Akron in 2019, and now gets to team with younger brother Deshawn, a junior who was third on the Bearcats last year with 94 tackles, nine of them for losses, and had a team-high four interceptions.
Two more outstanding sack leaders made the list. Army junior linebacker Andre Carter was second to Anderson with 15.5 sacks and tied for sixth nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss. Coastal Carolina’s sophomore defensive end Josaiah Stewart had 12.5 sacks. Among other tackles leaders is San Jose State graduate linebacker Kyle Harmon, one of two Spartans on the list after posting 135 tackles last year, fifth in the country. Another of the top returning interceptions leaders is Georgia State junior safety Antavious Lane, who tied App State’s Jones with five interceptions last year as the country’s returning pick leader.
In addition to the above mentions, Arkansas, Baylor, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, Troy, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin all had two players make the watch list. The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences each had 10 players on the team with the Pac-12 listing eight. The American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt all had seven members, with Conference USA, the Mid-American and the independents each posting four.
The are 25 linebackers on the watch list, 18 safeties, 17 defensive ends, 13 cornerbacks and 12 tackles.
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.
2022 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST
|DE Praise Amaewhule, UTEP||DT Siaki Ika, Baylor||CB Clark Phillips, Utah|
|LB Darren Anders, Bowling Green||S Tanner Ingle, N.C. State||LB Bumper Pool, Arkansas|
|LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama||S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M||CB Joey Porter, Penn State|
|DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State||S Quindell Johnson, Memphis||CB Eli Ricks, Alabama|
|S Jordan Battle, Alabama||LB Mikel Jones, Syracuse||CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia|
|DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin||CB Steven Jones Jr., App State||S Jammie Robinson, Florida State|
|DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson||S Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame||LB Vince Sanford, Air Force|
|S CJ Brown, NIU||DT Calijah Kancey, Pitt||LB Noah Sewell, Oregon|
|LB Jack Campbell, Iowa||CB Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford||LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson|
|LB Andre Carter, Army||S Antavioius Lane, Georgia State||S JL Skinner, Boise State|
|DT Jalen Carter, Georgia||CB Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama||CB Cam Smith, South Carolina|
|S Grayson Cash, UAB||LB Carlton Martial, Troy||LB Nolan Smith, Georgia|
|S Jalen Catalon, Arkansas||DE Brock Martin, Oklahoma State||DE Javon Solomon, Troy|
|DT Elijah Chatman, SMU||DE Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska||LB Omar Speights, Oregon State|
|LB KD Davis, North Texas||LB Caden McDonald, San Diego State||DE Josiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina|
|DE Brandon Dorlus, Oregon||DE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State||DT Dante Stills, West Virginia|
|LB Dillon Doyle, Baylor||S Patrick McMorris, San Diego State||DE Ron Stone Jr., Washington State|
|DE Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State||CB Riley Moss, Iowa||CB D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina|
|CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State||DE Myles Murphy, Clemson||DT Junior Tafuna, Utah|
|DE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame||DT Myles Murphy, North Carolina||DT Leonard Taylor, Miami|
|LB Antonio Grier, USF||DT PJ Mustipher, Penn State||LB Drake Thomas, N.C. State|
|DE Derick, Hall, Auburn||DE B.J. Ojulari, LSU||LB Henry To’oto’o, Alabama|
|LB Kyle Harmon, San Jose State||DE Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State||DT Tuli Tuipulotu, USC|
|DE Zach Harrison, Ohio State||LB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas||LB Payton Wilgar, BYU|
|S Xavier Henderson, Michigan State||S Gervarrius Owens, Houston||S Evan Williams, Fresno State|
|LB Nick Herbig, Wisconsin||LB Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati||S Divaad Wilson, UCF|
|S Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State||LB Ivan Pace, Cincinnati||S Rashad Wisdom, UTSA|
|DE Jamal Hines, Toledo||LB James Patterson, Buffalo||CB Charles Woods, West Virginia|
|CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU|
By conference: SEC 14; ACC (10); Big 12 (10); Big Ten (10); Pac-12 (8); American Athletic (7); Mountain West (7); Sun Belt (7); Conference USA (4), Mid-American (4), Independents (4).
By position: Linebackers 25, Safeties 18, Ends 17, Cornerbacks 13, Tackles 12.
Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season.
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. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.
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. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.
The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards are presenting their preseason watch list during this time as the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the remaining 2022 preseason watch list calendar:
- Wed., July 27: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
- Thurs., July 28: Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
- Fri., July 29: Walter Camp Award
- Mon., Aug. 1: Bednarik Award