2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

92 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 92 defensive standouts from 65 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes four returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Grant Delpit, a junior safety from LSU, tops the list as the lone returning Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist and FWAA first-team All-American from last season. Joining him on the list are three other returning 2018 FWAA second-team All-Americans in Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, and Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo.

Alabama leads the team count with four representatives – linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses, end Raekwon Davis and cornerback Trevon Diggs. In addition to Delpit, LSU boasts linebacker Jacob Phillips and cornerback Kristian Fulton on the list to tie Iowa State, Notre Dame and Penn State with three members each. There are 16 schools with two members on the list.

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 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.

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 eight of the 10 FBS conferences. The SEC (18) and Big Ten (15) have the most members and combine to make up more than one-third of the 92-man list. The ACC and Pac-12 (12 each) and Big 12 (11) also have double-digit representation, followed by the American Athletic (6), Independents (5), Conference USA (4), Mountain West (4), Mid-American (3) and Sun Belt (2). The list includes 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.

2019 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (92)
DB DeMarkus Acy, Missouri DE Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
DB Paulson Adebo, Stanford DE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
DE Bradlee Anae, Utah LB Clay Johnston, Baylor
LB Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech DB Brandon Jones, Texas
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State LB Antonio Jones-Davis, NIU
DE JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State DE Khalid Kareem, Notre Dame
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue LB Nate Landman, Colorado
DB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest LB Sage Lewis, FIU
LB Shaun Bradley, Temple DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
DB Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland LB Bryan London II, Texas State
LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech LB Jordan Mack, Virginia
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn DT Justin Madubuke, Texas A&M
DB Myles Bryant, Washington DB Kevin McGill, Eastern Michigan
DB Andre Cisco, Syracuse DB Josh Metellus, Michigan
DE Nick Coe, Auburn LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
LB Carter Coughlin, Minnesota LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
DB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
DB Grant Delpit, LSU LB Jacob Phillips, LSU
DB Trevon Diggs, Alabama LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
DE Victor Dimukeje, Duke DB J.R. Reed, Georgia
LB Troy Dye, Oregon DB Elijah Riley, Army
LB Cooper Edmiston, Tulsa DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa LB Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
LB Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB Colin Schooler, Arizona
DB Jordan Fuller, Ohio State DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DB Kristian Fulton, LSU LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
LB Lawrence Garner, Old Dominion LB Marcel Spears, Iowa State
LB Cale Garrett, Missouri DB Caden Sterns, Texas
DE Jonathan Garvin, Miami LB Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
DB Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson
DB Jeff Gladney, TCU LB Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
DB Richie Grant, UCF DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
DB A.J. Green, Oklahoma State DE Jay Tufele, USC
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State
DB Javon Hagan, Ohio DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
DB Bryce Hall, Virginia LB Evan Weaver, California
LB Ky’el Hemby, Southern Miss DB James Wiggins, Cincinnati
DB CJ Henderson, Florida DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State DT Robert Windsor, Penn State
LB Bryce Huff, Memphis LB David Woodward, Utah State
LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama DE Chase Young, Ohio State
DB Jaylon Johnson, Utah DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida

By conference: SEC 18, Big Ten 15, ACC 12, Pac-12 12, Big 12 11, American Athletic 6, Independents 5, Conference USA 4, Mountain West 4, Mid-American 3, Sun Belt 2.

By position: Linebackers 36, Backs 28, Ends 21, Tackles 7.

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

The 25th Annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate former UCLA All-American Jerry Robinson, the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is the keynote speaker.

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 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

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 Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, 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.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
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 million 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.

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Download the 25th Anniversary Bronko Nagurski Trophy logo

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Photo gallery: 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation banquet

The 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy was awarded to Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen on Dec. 5 at a banquet organized by the Charlotte Touchdown Club in Charlotte, N.C.

Alabama’s Allen wins 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

2016 bronko sponsor logosCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Finally, the Alabama Crimson Tide landed a winner in the Bronko Nagurski Trophy balloting: defensive end Jonathan Allen.

The nation’s top-ranked team, attempting to win a second straight national title and fifth in eight years, saw Allen claim the trophy as the best defensive player in college football, as chosen by the Football Writers Association of America.

Alabama has had a Nagurski finalist seven times in the last eight years; in fact, the Crimson Tide had two of the five 2016 Nagurski finalists. The previous six times, a Crimson Tide player didn’t get the nod in Charlotte. But Allen, a 6-3, 291-pound senior from Leesburg, Va., broke that streak after returning for his senior season to improve his draft status.

“I’m honestly speechless right now. I never in a million years thought I would even be up for this award, yet win it,” Allen said. “I’ve got to thank all the guys back at Alabama, God, my parents, my girlfriend, everyone who’s had a part in shaping me and making me who I am. This is just a tremendous award.”

“Few would debate that Alabama has the nation’s best defensive line, and Jonathan Allen is a major reason why Crimson Tide opponents have such a difficult time moving the ball,” said FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He is the winner of the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and had to beat out one of his teammates, Reuben Foster, for it.”

Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen, winner of the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, poses with 2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson.

Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen, winner of the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, poses with 2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson.

The finalists on hand for the banquet hosted by the Charlotte Touchdown Club were: Allen, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Clemson end Christian Wilkins.

Projected as a high first-round pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, Allen has been nicknamed “Superman” for some of his plays. Allen is a standout on the nation’s best defense, which, until the SEC Championship Game, hadn’t given up a touchdown since Oct. 22 against Texas A&M.

“Jonathan Allen is a fantastic player for us, even a better person and leader,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “He’s had an outstanding year. I think he’s sort of someone that a lot of players should look at who came here weighing probably 250 pounds. We kind of recruited him as an outside linebacker. The guy has developed each and every year into being a better and better and better player. I think sometimes a lot of players lose sight of how football is a developmental game, how they improve, how they can improve their value by continuing to grow and develop as players in college. Jonathan Allen is a great example of that.”

Allen is second on the Crimson Tide’s career sack list with 26.5 and has nine sacks for 72 yards in losses this season. He has 15 quarterback hurries, has broken up two passes, and blocked a kick. He has scored touchdowns on two fumble recoveries – a 75-yard return against Ole Miss and a 30-yard return against Texas A&M.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner was chosen from the five finalists who are part of the 2016 FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selected the Nagurski Trophy finalists and winner.

In addition to the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement at the Charlotte Convention Center, the banquet celebrated the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Navy’s Chet Moeller, a member of the FWAA’s 1975 All-America Team and a College Football Hall of Famer, was honored. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was 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 Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 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 tiger@fwaa.com.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB AND ITS SPONSORS

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 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. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

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Photo gallery: Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation

These pictures, from the Dec. 7 banquet for the presentation of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy to Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, were provided by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Treasured Events of Charlotte.  Matakevich is the 23rd winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes annually to FWAA’s selection as the best defensive player in college football.

Temple’s Matakevich wins 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

broko logosCHARLOTTE, 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…