DALLAS (FWAA) – Five finalists for the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy were announced on Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Vying for the honor of college football’s National Defensive Player of the Year are four underclassmen and one senior: South Carolina sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alabama junior cornerback Dee Milliner, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o and Florida State junior end Bjoern Werner.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 3 and presented the Bronko Nagurski Trophy at a gala banquet at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., where Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly will give the keynote address. The event will be televised by NFL Network.
In addition, the FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will celebrate the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, presented by Florida East Coast Railway. Nebraska’s Larry Jacobson, a member of the 1971 FWAA All-America Team and the Outland Trophy winner that season, is the recipient this year.
The FWAA’s National Defensive Player of the Year Award is named after Bronko Nagurski, who dominated college football at Minnesota as a bruising fullback and defensive tackle from 1927-29. He could have been an All-American at any position and was the best player wherever the coaches put him. The FWAA has presented a National Defensive Player of the Year Award since 1993 and in the name of Nagurski since 1995.
A look at the five 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists, as selected by the FWAA All-America Committee:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (6-6, 256, So., Rock Hill, S.C.): Bruising end for the 8-2 Gamecocks. Clowney has made 43 tackles (31 unassisted). He has 17 tackles for 78 yards in losses (tied for sixth in the country, 1.70 per game), of which 8.5 are sacks for minus-49. He has two pass breakups, four quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Clowney is the first South Carolina finalist for the Nagurski Trophy.
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (6-3, 241, Jr., Columbus, Ga.): Explosive playmaker for the 9-1 Bulldogs. Despite missing two games due to injury, Jarvis has made 56 tackles (37 unassisted). He has 17 tackles for 100 yards in losses (first in the country, 2.13 per game), of which 10.5 are sacks for 80 yards in losses. He has one interception and returned it for 21 yards. He has two pass breakups, 28 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles (second in the country) and two fumble recoveries. He was twice named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week this season for his efforts in wins over Missouri and Florida. Jones is the fifth Georgia finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, which was won by Champ Bailey in 1998 (other finalists were David Pollack, 2002 and ’04; Justin Houston, 2010).
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (6-1, 199, Jr., Millbrook, Ala.): One of the top players on defense for the 9-1 Crimson Tide, Milliner has 44 tackles (27 unassisted). He has four tackles for loss (for minus-19 yards), 1.5 of those are sacks (for minus-11 yards). He has two pass interceptions with 35 yards in returns. Adding to those totals are 14 passes broken up, 16 deflections, one forced fumble and one blocked kick. Milliner is the fifth Alabama finalist for the Nagurski Trophy (Antonio Langham, 1993; DeMeco Ryans, 2005; Terrence Cody, 2009; Mark Barron, 2011).
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame (6-2, 255, Sr., Laie, Hawaii): Defensive stopper for the 10-0 Fighting Irish who has 92 total tackles (46 unassisted). He has 5.5 tackles for 19 yards in losses, of which 1.5 are sacks for 13 yards in losses. He has six interceptions (third in the country) and 35 yards in returns. He has four pass breakups, 10 deflections, four quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. He was named Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts (eight tackles, two interceptions) in a 13-6 win over Michigan on Sept. 22. Te’o is the second Notre Dame finalist for the Nagurski Trophy (Shane Walton, 2002).
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (6-4, 255, Jr., Berlin, Germany): German-born player has sparkled for the Seminoles’ top-ranked defense. He has 29 tackles (22 unassisted). He has 12.5 tackles for 84 yards in losses, of which eight of those are sacks for 69 yards in losses. He has broken up six passes and deflected six passes, hurried the quarterback five times and forced a fumble. Werner is the third Florida State finalist for the Nagurski Trophy (Derrick Brooks, 1993; Sam Cowart, 1997).
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 email@example.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football for a living. 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 gameday 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 or 972-713-6198.
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The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official Web site, www.ncfaa.org.