Just days after Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery, and Barkevious Mingo were named to the watch list of one defensive player of the year honor, the Bednarik Award, the same four Tigers were named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, also presented to the nation’s top defender.
The Nagurski Trophy winner is chosen from five finalists who are part of the FWAA All-America Team as chosen by the FWAA All-America Committee.
While LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu have won the Bednarik in 2010 and 2011, respectively, the Nagurski has eluded the Tigers. Peterson and Morris Claiborne did take their turn as a finalist for the award the last two years.
All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey won the award in 2007.
If LSU is going to win the Nagurski this year, they’ll have to do it against 80 other players on the list, including a nation-leading 19 total from the SEC.
A 2011 Heisman Trophy award finalist, Mathieu heads into his junior season having created a total of 14 turnovers during his career, a feat that has earned him the famous nickname “Honey Badger” because he “takes what he wants” from opponents. His 11 forced fumbles rank seventh in NCAA history and are just three shy of the career record. Mathieu currently owns the NCAA career record in forced fumbles per game with a 0.42 average.
Mathieu’s secondary mate Reid, also a candidate for the 2012 Lott Trophy, is perhaps the best safety in all of college football. The heady and hard-hitting Reid was a second-team All-American as a sophomore last year after tying for the team lead in total tackles with 76 and directing a defense that ranked second in the country. He has four career interceptions, including a Honey Badger-like rip job at the Alabama goal line that saved the day last year in Tuscaloosa.
Montgomery and Mingo, recently ranked in the top five college prospects by NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, may be the most fearsome defensive end duo in the country. Montgomery, a finalist for national defensive end of the year in 2011, has recorded 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in two seasons, despite a season-ending knee injury he suffered in October of his freshman year. Mingo holds a team-best 20.5 career tackles for loss to go along with 10.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries.
The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce the five finalists for the honoor on Nov. 15. The winner will be announced at the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Awards Banquet on Dec. 3 in Charlotte.
Feature photo of Mingo by Jamie Squire.