The Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list released Tuesday includes a whopping 97 defensive players, with three of those listed — seniors Te’von Coney and Jerry Tillery and junior Julian Love — playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Love is one of 27 defensive backs honored, while Coney is one of 26 linebackers who made the initial list. Tillery is one of the 20 tackles named, a list that undoubtedly starts with 2017 Nagurski Trophy finalist Ed Oliver of the Houston Cougars. (You remember Oliver as last year’s winner of the Outland Trophy, an award that should have rightfully gone to Irish left guard Quenton Nelson.)
The watch list also includes players from four teams on the Irish’s 2018 schedule including: Michigan Wolverines’ linebackers Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson, defensive ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich and defensive back Lavert Hilll; Virginia Tech Hokies’ defensive tackle Ricky Walker; Northwestern Wildcats’ linebacker Paddy Fisher; and USC Trojans’ defensive end Christian Rector, linebacker Cameron Smith and defensive back Marvel Tell III.
The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Charlotte Touchdown Club, will announce the five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 14. The winner will be announced Dec. 3 during a banquet.
Manti Te’o won the award while playing for the Irish team during their 2012 undefeated regular season.