TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State defensive stars Derwin James and DeMarcus Walker were named to the 2016 Bronco Nagurski Trophy Watch List on Friday.
The Nagurski Trophy is awarded each year to the National Defensive Player of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America.
James, a playmaking sophomore defensive back, and Walker, a senior leader at defensive end, were both also mentioned on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Ward, given to the College Football Defensive Player of the Year, on Tuesday.
James proved to be one of the best defensive freshman in the country in 2015 as he finished with 91 tackles, 95 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. James earned All-ACC Third Team honors as well as Freshman All-America honors from the Sporting News and USA Today. The Haines City, Fla., native led the team in tackles five times in 2015, including a season-high 14 stops against Houston in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Walker returns to the Seminole defensive front for his final collegiate season after an impressive junior year in which he established career highs in tackles (58), tackles for loss (15.5), sacks (10.5), pass breakups (5) and forced fumbles (4). The Jacksonville, Fla., native registered his first career interception in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Houston and closed out the regular season with the first blocked kick of his career on a fourth-quarter field goal attempt by Florida in Gainesville. His 10.5 sacks were the most for a Seminole defender since 2012 and tied for fifth in the ACC last season.
Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. Once again, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week from early September through mid-November. If not already on the watch list, the honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Thurs., Nov. 17.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those 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, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., Dec. 5 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. In addition to the 2016 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. Navy’s Chet Moeller, a member of the FWAA’s 1975 All-America Team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe 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 the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast over 722 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.