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Clemson Football

Four Tigers Named to Nagurski Watch List

July 29, 2021

The Football Writers Association of America announced today that four Clemson players — defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, defensive end Myles Murphy, linebacker James Skalski and safety Nolan Turner — have been named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Additional information from award organizers is included below.

DALLAS (FWAA) – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 90 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes seven returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team, another from the 2019 team, the nation’s top four tacklers from a year ago, three of the top seven sack leaders and one of the interception leaders.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists and honored at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree on Dec. 6 at the Charlotte Convention Center. 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.

All three returning FWAA first-team All-Americans leading off the list are in the secondary – cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner of Cincinnati and Tiawan Mullen of Indiana, along with Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. Four players from last year’s second team All-America defense also top the outstanding list, linebacker Nate Landman of Colorado, safety Tykee Smith of Georgia (a transfer from West Virginia), tackle Darius Stills of West Virginia, and end Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon.

Will McDonald, an end, is one of three Iowa State defenders on the list after tying for the national sack lead last year at 10.5, joining linebacker Mike Rose, who tied for third in the country in interceptions with six, and safety Greg Eisworth. Cade Hall led San Jose State’s surprise season a year ago from his end spot and tied for third nationally with 10.0 sacks. TCU boasts two players, led by end Ochaun Mathis, who tied for fifth with 9.0 sacks a year ago. The Big 12 has four schools (adding Baylor and Oklahoma) with at least a pair of players on the team.

The top four total tackles leaders from 2020, each of them a linebacker, also highlight the list. Auburn’s Zakoby McClain and Carlton Martial of Troy each claimed the title with 113 total tackles each, with Arkansas’ Grant Morgan (111) and N.C. State’s Payton Wilson (108) just behind. McClain and Morgan are the returning leaders of the 20-player SEC contingent that is spread among nine schools. Defending national champion Alabama leads the national team list with six players – defensive tackles DJ Dale and Phidarian Mathis, linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Christian Harris, cornerback Josh Jobe and safety Malachi Moore. A Georgia trio led by defensive tackle Jordan Davis leads six different SEC schools have at least two players on the list.

Safety Brandon Joseph of Northwestern tied for the national interception lead last year with six and complements Hamilton and Smith as the watch list’s returning secondary leaders along with LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., who was an FWAA First Team All-America cornerback in 2019. The Big Ten is second among the conferences with 13 players from 10 different schools, with national runner-up Ohio State as its leader with three – tackle Haskell Garrett, end Zach Harrison and cornerback Sevyn Banks.

Clemson has four players on the team to make up half of the ACC contingent – tackle Bryan Breese, end Myles Murphy, linebacker James Skalski and safety Nolan Turner – and Georgia, Iowa State, Ohio State and Oklahoma are next as teams with three players each. Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Cincinnati, Indiana, LSU, Missouri, Notre Dame, San Diego State, TCU, Troy, USC and Washington have two apiece.

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. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from all 10 FBS conferences plus five from the independent schools. The SEC led the conference list with 20 with the Big Ten (13) and Big 12 (12) just behind, making up half of the list. The Pac-12 (9) was fourth, followed by the ACC (8), Conference USA, Independents, Mountain West and Sun Belt (5 each) and the American Athletic and Mid-American had four apiece. The list includes 29 linebackers, 22 backs, 22 ends and 17 tackles.


LB Blaze Alldredge, Missouri
LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
CB Sevyn Banks, Ohio State
LB Terrel Bernard, Baylor
S Bubba Bolden, Miami
LB Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
DE Thomas Booker, Stanford
DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson
DT C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina
S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
LB Troy Brown, Central Michigan
S Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
DT Will Choloh Jr., Troy
DT Nolan Cockrill, Army
DT D.J. Dale, Alabama
DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
LB JoJo Domann, Nebraska
DT Jamare Edwards, Marshall
S Greg Eisworth, Iowa State
CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
DE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
LB Diego Fagot, Navy
LB Olakunle Fatukasi, Rutgers
CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
DT Haskell Garrett, Ohio State
LB Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech
DE Cade Hall, San Jose State
S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
LB Jake Hansen, Illinois
LB Christian Harris, Alabama
DE Zach Harrison, Ohio State
CB Tre'vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
DT Ralph Holley, Western Michigan
DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
DE Drake Jackson, USC
DE Trajan Jeffcoat, Missouri
CB Josh Jobe, Alabama
DT Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
DE Durrell Johnson, Liberty
DE Tyler Johnson, Arizona State
S Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
DT Calijah Kancey, Pitt
DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
LB Nate Landman, Colorado
DE DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
DE DeAngelo Malone, WKU
LB Carlton Martial, Troy
LB Brandon Martin, Ball State
DE Ochaun Mathis, TCU
DT Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
LB Zakoby McClain, Auburn
LB Caden McDonald, San Diego State
DE Will McDonald, Iowa State
CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
LB Micah McFadden, Indiana
LB Kristopher Moll, UAB
S Smoke Monday, Auburn
S Malachi Moore, Alabama
LB Grant Morgan, Arkansas
LB Darius Muasau, Hawaii
CB Tiawan Mullen, Indiana
DE Myles Murphy, Clemson
DT Dion Novil, North Texas
DE Scott Patchan, Colorado State
DT Jaxon Player, Tulsa
CB Eli Ricks, LSU
LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State
LB Mike Rose, Iowa State
LB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin
DE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
LB James Skalski, Clemson
S Tykee Smith, Georgia
CB Chris Steele, USC
DT Dante Stills, West Virginia
CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
DE Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame
DE Demetrius Taylor, App State
DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
DE Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
DE Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma
S Bralen Trahan, Louisiana
S Nolan Turner, Clemson
LB Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
DT Raymond Vohasek, North Carolina
LB Payton Wilgar, BYU
LB Payton Wilson, N.C. State
DT Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

By conference: SEC 20, Big Ten 13, Big 12 12, Pac-12 9, ACC 8, Conference USA, Independents, Mountain West, Sun Belt 5, American Athletic and Mid-American 4.
By position: Linebackers 29, Backs 22, Ends 22, Tackles 17.

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. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 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.

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Four Tigers Named to Nagurski Watch List

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