Watch List


103 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS (FWAA) — The 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List boasts 103 defensive standouts from all 10 Division I FBS conferences, including four returning players from last season’s Football Writers Association of America All-America team.

Christian Wilkins, a defensive tackle for defending national champion Clemson, and Florida State defensive back Tarvarus McFadden are the only 2016 FWAA first-teamers on the list. Two other 2016 second-teamers – Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver and Virginia linebacker Micah Kiser – are included along with NIU defensive back Shawun Lurry, a 2015 First-Team FWAA All-America player.

The Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with 20 players on the watch list, followed by the Big Ten (16), SEC (14), Pac-12 (13), Big 12 (11), American Athletic (10), Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Independents (3), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2). The list includes 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles, all vying for the award representing college football’s best defensive player.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous seasons, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday throughout the 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 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Thurs., Nov. 16.

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.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Notre Dame’s Ross Browner, a member of the FWAA’s 1976 and 1977 All-America Teams, the 1976 Outland Trophy winner and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart 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 college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 23 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit to learn more about our story.

Below are the representatives of the 2017 preseason watch list:


2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List

DB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

DB Marcus Allen, Penn State

DE Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas

DB Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia

LB Alex Aukerman, Army West Point

LB Genard Avery, Memphis

DT Drew Bailey, Louisville

LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State

DB Quin Blanding, Virginia

LB Eric Boggs, Appalachian State

DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State

DB Blace Brown, Troy

LB Jason Cabinda, Penn State

LB Steve Casali, Massachusetts

DB Andre Chachere, San Jose State

DB Sean Chandler, Temple

DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State

LB Jack Cichy, Wisconsin

DE Aikeem Coleman, Idaho

DB Duke Dawson, Florida

DB D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest

LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, Rice

LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

DB Rashard Fant, Indiana

DT Folorunso Fatukasi, UConn

DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

DE Marcell Frazier, Missouri

DT Greg Gaines, Washington

DE Rashan Gary, Michigan

DT Will Geary, Kansas State

LB Ulysees Gilbert III, Akron

DT Rasheem Green, USC

LB Shaquem Griffin, UCF

DB Chase Hansen, Utah

DB Heath Harding, Miami (Ohio)

DB Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

LB James Hearns, Louisville

DT B.J. Hill, N.C. State

LB Travin Howard, TCU

DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan

DB Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern

DB Derwin James, Florida State

LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

LB Josey Jewell, Iowa

LB Jordan Jones, Kentucky

LB Arden Key, LSU

LB Micah Kiser, Virginia

DE Harold Landry, Boston College

DE Justin Lawler, SMU

DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State

DE James Looney, California

DT Lowell Lotulelei, Utah

DB Shawun Lurry, NIU

DB Iman Marshall, USC

DE Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

DB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

DB Quenton Meeks, Stanford

DT David Moa, Boise State

LB Skai Moore, South Carolina

LB Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame

DB Deatrick Nichols, USF

DT Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

DT Kendrick Norton, Miami

LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

DT Ed Oliver, Houston

DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami

DB Taylor Rapp, Washington

DB Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama

DB D.J. Reed, Kansas State

DE Malik Reed, Nevada

DT Steven Richardson, Minnesota

DE Malcolm Roach, Texas

DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State

LB Auggie Sanchez, USF

LB Tegray Scales, Indiana

DT Deadrin Senat, USF

DE Conor Sheehy, Wisconsin

DE K.J. Smith, Baylor

LB Cameron Smith, USC

DE Josh Sweat, Florida State

LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii

DE Chad Thomas, Miami

LB Micah Thomas, Navy

DB Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma

DT Trent Thompson, Georgia

DB Kevin Toliver, LSU

DT Vita Vea, Washington

LB Azeem Victor, Washington

DE Reggie Walker, Kansas State

DB Armani Watts, Texas A&M

DB Jordan Whitehead, Pitt

DE JoJo Wicker, Arizona State

DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson

DB Andrew Wingard, Wyoming

DB Jaden Wright, New Mexico State

DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida