CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner on Monday night, a feat paralleling his team’s rise to its first Top 25 ranking since 1980 and record-tying 10-victory season in which the Owls won the American Athletic Conference’s East Division crown.
The Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club made the announcement at a gala banquet presented by ACN at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Matakevich, the school’s all-time tackle leader, is the first major award winner for Temple (10-3), which is headed to the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl to play Toledo on Dec. 22.
This year’s banquet marks the 21st anniversary of the event in Charlotte, where Matakevich beat out the other finalists: Duke safety Jeremy Cash, Clemson end Shaq Lawson, Penn State end Carl Nassib and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.
The 6-1, 232-pound Matakevich, the first, first-team defensive All-American in Temple history, now has collected the title as the best defensive player in college football. Adding to the story, Temple was the only Football Bowl Subdivision school to recruit him out of Stratford, Conn.
“They (most recruiters) told me I was too small, too slow and I could not play at this level,” Matakevich said. “It was everybody.”
But current Temple head coach Matt Rhule, who was an assistant on the staff at the time, looked at him differently. More…
2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls
(Note: Randy White was honored at the same banquet where Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III was revealed as college football’s best defensive player as deemed by the Football Writers Association of America.)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Randy White never expected to be honored as a legend in college football.
Of course, the highly decorated defensive star for Maryland and then the Dallas Cowboys never really expected to even play college football in the first place.
He’d been a star pitcher and first baseman for his high school team in Wilmington, Delaware, and had been told at one time that the Philadelphia Phillies wanted to draft him and sign him for a $30,000 bonus.
“I thought, ‘I’m rich,’” White recalled Monday before the Charlotte Touchdown Club Banquet where he was recognized as a Bronko Nagurski Legend from the FWAA’s 1974 All-America Team. “But my dad told the scout no. He said I was going to Maryland and play college football.”
Father knew best.
Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, III winner of the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
CHARLOTTE – Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III claimed the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday night, winning the Football Writers Association of America’s annual award for the top defensive player in the country.
Wright, a 6-1, 246-pound sophomore, accepted the award at the event that has been sponsored by the Charlotte Touchdown Club for 20 consecutive years. He becomes the second Arizona player to win the award after the inaugural winner Rob Waldrop in 1993 and the first Pac-12 player to claim it since Terrell Suggs of Arizona State in 2002. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award, joining Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, the 2006 winner.
Wright has gone from a player recruited by only a few schools – a two-star recruit on the West Coast – to a tackling machine at Arizona (10-3), ranked 10th in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
“I say thank you all to my teammates and coaches,” Wright said. “Football is a team game. I accept this on behalf of the Arizona football program.”