NOTE: CollegeFootballPoll.com's Dave Congrove is a nominating member on the voting panel for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
DALLAS (FWAA) – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 85 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents. The watch list roster includes five returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team including 2021 winner Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama, five of the top 13 tacklers from last season, the top two sack leaders and six of the top 13, and two players in the secondary who each had five interceptions last year.
The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce finalists for the 2022 trophy on Nov. 16 and the winner will be unveiled Dec. 5 at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.
Anderson, the Alabama linebacker who earned consensus All-America status as well as the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, headlines a trio of returning All-Americans coming off First Team honors. Anderson did it all last year for the College Football Playoff runner-up Crimson Tide, leading the nation in sacks with 17.5 to go with 33.5 tackles for loss and 101 total tackles – 57 solos – in his 15-game season. Will McDonald IV, a senior Iowa State defensive end, also returns to the list. McDonald posted 11.5 sacks to tie for seventh nationally last season after tying for the national sack lead in 2020 (10.5) and was the Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big 12 Conference. Steven Jones Jr., a senior safety at App State, is the country’s interception leader after snagging five last season and is one of a record seven players representing the Sun Belt Conference.
From the FWAA’s 2021 Second-Team All-America crew are Iowa teammates Jack Campbell and Riley Moss. Campbell is a senior linebacker who led the nation in tackles with 143 in 14 games and Moss tied for 14th nationally with four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. The Hawkeyes are one of four Big Ten schools and one of 20 overall that had at least a pair of players on the list. Alabama tops the team field with four, with Anderson alongside fellow linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, junior cornerback Eli Ricks and senior safety Jordan Battle. To’oTo’o had 127 tackles last season, tied for 27th nationally. The Crimson Tide have had Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists in nine of the last 11 seasons.
Defending national champion Georgia placed three on the list as the Southeastern Conference led all conferences with 14 selections. The Bulldogs have a player from each front of their defense in junior tackle Jalen Carter, senior linebacker Nolan Smith and sophomore cornerback Kelee Ringo. Georgia’s trio ties Clemson for the second-most by any team with the Tigers posting standout linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy on the list along with junior linebacker Trenton Simpson.
Coming off its standout defensive season that propelled it into the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati also boasts a pair of linebacking brothers on the list in Ivan Pace and Deshawn Pace. Ivan Pace is a senior transfer from Miami (Ohio) and was a first-team All-MAC selection after his 125 tackles listed 10th in the nation. He once tied an NCAA record with six sacks against Akron in 2019, and now gets to team with younger brother Deshawn, a junior who was third on the Bearcats last year with 94 tackles, nine of them for losses, and had a team-high four interceptions.
Two more outstanding sack leaders made the list. Army junior linebacker Andre Carter was second to Anderson with 15.5 sacks and tied for sixth nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss. Coastal Carolina’s sophomore defensive end Josaiah Stewart had 12.5 sacks. Among other tackles leaders is San Jose State graduate linebacker Kyle Harmon, one of two Spartans on the list after posting 135 tackles last year, fifth in the country. Another of the top returning interceptions leaders is Georgia State junior safety Antavious Lane, who tied App State’s Jones with five interceptions last year as the country’s returning pick leader.
In addition to the above mentions, Arkansas, Baylor, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, Troy, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin all had two players make the watch list. The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences each had 10 players on the team with the Pac-12 listing eight. The American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt all had seven members, with Conference USA, the Mid-American and the independents each posting four.
The are 25 linebackers on the watch list, 18 safeties, 17 defensive ends, 13 cornerbacks and 12 tackles.
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.
DE Praise Amaewhule, UTEP
LB Darren Anders, Bowling Green
LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
S Jordan Battle, Alabama
DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson
S CJ Brown, NIU
LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
LB Andre Carter, Army
DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
S Grayson Cash, UAB
S Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
DT Elijah Chatman, SMU
LB KD Davis, North Texas
DE Brandon Dorlus, Oregon
LB Dillon Doyle, Baylor
DE Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State
CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
DE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
LB Antonio Grier, USF
DE Derick Hall, Auburn
LB Kyle Harmon, San Jose State
DE Zach Harrison, Ohio State
S Xavier Henderson, Michigan State
LB Nick Herbig, Wisconsin
S Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State
DE Jamal Hines, Toledo
CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
DT Siaki Ika, Baylor
S Tanner Ingle, N.C. State
S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
S Quindell Johnson, Memphis
LB Mikel Jones, Syracuse
CB Steven Jones Jr., App State
S Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame
DT Calijah Kancey, Pitt
CB Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford
S Antavioius Lane, Georgia State
CB Darrell Luter, Jr., South Alabama
LB Carlton Martial, Troy
DE Brock Martin, Oklahoma State
DE Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska
LB Caden McDonald, San Diego State
DE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
S Patrick McMorris, San Diego State
CB Riley Moss, Iowa
DE Myles Murphy, Clemson
DT Myles Murphy, North Carolina
DT PJ Mustipher, Penn State
DE B.J. Ojulari, LSU
DE Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State
LB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
S Gervarrius Owens, Houston
LB Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati
LB Ivan Pace, Cincinnati
LB James Patterson, Buffalo
CB Clark Phillips, Utah
LB Bumper Pool, Arkansas
CB Joey Porter, Penn State
CB Eli Ricks, Alabama
CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
S Jammie Robinson, Florida State
LB Vince Sanford, Air Force
LB Noah Sewell, Oregon
LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
S JL Skinner, Boise State
CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
LB Nolan Smith, Georgia
DE Javon Solomon, Troy
LB Omar Speights, Oregon State
DE Josiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
DT Dante Stills, West Virginia
DE Ron, Stone Jr., Washington State
CB D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina
DT Junior Tafuna, Utah
DT Leonard Taylor, Miami
LB Drake Thomas, N.C. State
LB Henry To’oto’o, Alabama
DT Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
LB Payton Wilgar, BYU
S Evan Williams, Fresno State
S Divaad Wilson, UCF
S Rashad Wisdom, UTSA
CB Charles Woods, West Virginia
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. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.
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. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.
The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards are presenting their preseason watch list during this time as the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the remaining 2022 preseason watch list calendar:
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives on the FWAA website.
About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region. Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified, boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies. The Club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches. Through individual and corporate support, nearly $3,000,000 has been raised and donated to benefit the Touchdown Club's scholarship efforts. For more information call 704-347-2918 or touchdownclub.com.