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Clemson DT named finalist for Nagurski Trophy


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Clemson DT named finalist for Nagurski Trophy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) – Five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy – presented annually to the nation's top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club – were named on Wednesday.

In alphabetical order, the finalists are: Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, LSU safety Grant Delpit, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient will be chosen from these five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association's entire membership, selects the best defensive player in college football.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., Dec. 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner's announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery. Ohio State's Tom Cousineau, a member of the FWAA's 1977 All-America team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

Here is more information on the 2018 finalists:

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (6-4, 300, Gr., Springfield, Mass.): A standout player, even as part of a defensive line featuring four returning All-Americans. Wilkins was an FWAA First-Team All-America selection in 2016. He has 10.5 tackles for loss, second on the team, to go with three sacks and 40 tackles (29 solo) for the season. Clemson was No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss in the first two of Wilkins' three prior seasons in the middle and was No. 6 last year. His 13.5 stops behind the line have resulted in 67 yards of losses. Wilkins will play in his 54th career game Saturday against Duke. Wilkins graduated in 2017 with a degree in communications in only two-and-a-half years.

Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky (6-5, 260, Sr., Montclair, N.J.): Allen has hampered opposing offenses as a pass-rush specialist on the edge. He leads the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss, which is also 11th in the nation. His 11 sacks are third nationally and he is one full sack shy of the Kentucky single-season record. Another half-sack would tie him (25.5 at present) as the Wildcats' all-time career leader. Allen gets progressively better during the game – nine of his 11 sacks have come in the second half with six of them in the fourth quarter – and he is a takeaway producer with five forced fumbles, second in the nation. His 65 total tackles have helped him be named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week four times.

Devin Bush, LB, Michigan (5-11, 222, Jr., Penbroke Pines, Fla.): Bush is Michigan's ball-hawking tackle leader (61) on the nation's leader in total defense (219.8 yards per game). He's always around the ball on a defense that has allowed 338 fewer yards than any team in the country; his 32 assists lead the team and his 29 solo tackles are second. Bush is the Wolverines' leader with 8.0 tackles for loss and has had at least one tackle for loss in six games. He tied a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss against Nebraska to go with a season-high nine tackles. His 4.5 sacks are second on the team and Bush has contributed seven or more tackles in six games while breaking up 4.5 passes.

Grant Delpit, S, LSU (6-3, 203, So., Houston, Texas): One of this season's top underclassmen at any position, Delpit leads the SEC and is tied for third in the nation with five interceptions. He also leads the SEC in passes defensed (11) on a defense that leads the SEC and is sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense (98.28 rating). Delpit is third on the team in tackles with 63 and leads in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (9.5, 14th nationally). He's recorded double-digit tackles in three games with a career-high of 10 against Auburn this season when he also had two interceptions and a sack to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 15.

Quinnen Williams, NG, Alabama (6-4, 295, So., Birmingham, Ala.): The upstart sophomore leads Alabama with 14.0 tackles for loss for minus-58 yards and is tied for 11th in the SEC with 5.0 sacks and a 0.5 sacks per game average. He posted a career game against LSU, tallying career highs in tackles (10) and sacks (2.5) and tying a career high in tackles for loss (3.5). Williams, who earned the Outland Trophy Defensive Player of the Month for October, clogs the middle and allows those around him to create havoc – Alabama has had at least 10 tackles for loss in five of 10 games and in three straight. The Crimson Tide's 36 team sacks and 3.60 sacks per game are both tied for No. 3 nationally. Has been named a defensive player of the week by the Alabama coaching staff eight times in 10 games.

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. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

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