Northwestern's Gallagher Named Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week

November 25, 2020 by FWAA

NOTE:'s Dave Congrove is a nominating member of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

DALLAS (FWAA) – Northwestern linebacker Blake Gallagher posted a team-high 14 tackles and anchored a defense that shut down No. 10 Wisconsin in a 17-7 win. Gallagher also had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in a win that gave the 5-0 Wildcats command of the Big Ten's West Division. That performance has earned him the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games in the weekend of Nov. 21, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

This is the sixth time for a Northwestern player to earn this weekly honor and the first time since Gallagher's linebacking teammate Paddy Fisher won it in 2017. Former Northwestern linebacker and current head coach Pat Fitzgerald won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 1995 and '96 and remains the only two-time winner of the annual award.

Gallagher, a 6-1, 228-pound senior from Raynham, Mass., has made 14 tackles in two of his last three games (also Nov. 7 vs. Nebraska) and this was his 12th career game with 10 or more tackles to go with his first forced fumble. Gallagher leads Northwestern in total tackles with 48 and in tackles-for-loss with 5.5 and is part of a strong trident of linebackers with Chris Bergin and Fisher, who with Gallagher are 1-2-3 on the Wildcats' tackles chart, each with 43 or more in five games.

Northwestern's win streak can be credited in large part to its defense. The Wildcats have shut out opponents in the second half in four of their five games, including against Wisconsin when Gallagher led the effort that didn't allow the Badgers to reach the red zone and forced five turnovers. Northwestern's scoring defense (12.6 ppg) is fourth in the nation and it ranks in the top 15 in seven defensive catagories. Gallagher has two (one interception, one fumble recovery) of the Wildcats' 15 takeaways (3.0 per game) and Northwestern's plus-eight turnover margin is tied for third in the nation.

our of the other five weekly awards – Fisher (2017), Collin Ellis (2013) and Tim McGarigle (2004 and '05) – were Northwestern linebackers. Herschel Henderson (also in 2005) was a safety.

The Wildcats are 5-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1996 and in firm control of the Big Ten West with wins over the three teams immediately below it. The Wildcats' No. 11 AP ranking is also its highest since 1996. The 'Cats travel to Michigan State for a 2:30 p.m. CT tilt Saturday, televised by ESPN2.

Each Tuesday during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce three finalists for the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Dec. 9. The national defensive player of the year will announced on Dec. 22 and chosen from those finalists who are part of the 2020 FWAA All-America Team.

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.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America 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.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
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. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is

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2020 Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Players of the Week
• Weekend of Sept. 5: Isaiah Kaufusi, LB, BYU
• Weekend of Sept. 12: Curtis Ryans, DE, Georgia Tech
• Weekend of Sept. 19: Tavante Beckett, LB, Marshall
• Weekend of Sept. 26: Jahron McPherson, S, Kansas State
• Weekend of Oct. 3: Bumper Pool, LB, Arkansas
• Weekend of Oct. 10: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
• Weekend of Oct. 17: Grant Morgan, LB, Arkansas
• Weekend of Oct. 24: Nick Andersen, S, Wake Forest
• Weekend of Oct. 31: Joseph Ossai, LB/DE, Texas
• Weekend of Nov. 7: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
• Weekend of Nov. 14: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
• Weekend of Nov. 21: Blake Gallagher, LB, Northwestern

Note: The annual Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet has been cancelled. Finalists for the award will be announced on Dec. 9 with the recipient unveiled on Dec. 22