CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) – Five finalists for the 2006
Trophy were announced on Thursday by the Football Writers Association
of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Vying for the honor of
college football's best defensive player are Clemson's Gaines
Adams, Michigan's Leon Hall, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis,
Florida's Reggie Nelson and Mississippi's Patrick
The winner will be announced on Dec. 4 and presented the Bronko
Nagurski Trophy at a gala banquet at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte,
N.C. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, the award's only two-time
winner, will give the keynote address.
Only one of the schools represented has had a previous Nagurski
winner – Michigan. Charles Woodson won the award in 1997, the same
year he became the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Adams, a 6-5, 260-pound senior end from Greenwood, S.C., has 35 unassisted and 16
assisted tackles. He has 14.5 tackles for 91 yards in losses, broken
up four passes, caused two fumbles and recovered three fumbles,
returning one for a touchdown.
Hall is this year's version of Woodson. The 5-11, 195-pound senior
cornerback from Vista, Calif., has 35 tackles, 27 unassisted for the unbeaten Wolverines.
He had two tackles for eight yards in losses. He has made three
interceptions, broken up 15 passes and recovered two fumbles.
Laurinaitis, a 6-3, 231-pound sophomore linebacker from
Hamel, Minn., will spearhead
the Buckeyes' defense in their showdown with Michigan on Saturday.
He plays more like a defensive back at times, with five interceptions.
But he still leads the Buckeyes in tackles with 91, including a
career best of 13 against defending national champion Texas. He
has 8.5 tackles for loss and has forced three fumbles.
Nelson, a 6-1, 195-pound junior strong safety from Melbourne,
Fla., has 26 unassisted
tackles and 14 assisted. He is considered one of the hardest hitters
on the Florida team. He has four interceptions this season and returned
one of those 70 yards for a touchdown against Alabama. He intercepted
passes vs. Tennessee on the first and last play of the game.
Willis, a 6-2, 240-pound senior linebacker from Bruceton,
Tenn., leads the Southeastern
Conference with 11.2 tackles a game. He has failed to reach double-digits
in tackles only once this season and has 6.5 tackles for loss. He
has broken up six passes, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble.
Bronko Nagurski, in his day, was a massive 6-2, 225-pound physical specimen
who dominated college football at Minnesota as a bruising fullback
and tackle from 1927 through 1929. He could have been an All-America
at any position, playing 60 minutes and was the best player on
the field wherever
he lined up.
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. For more information, contact John Rocco
(704-347-2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 900 men and women across
North America who cover college football for a living. 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 gameday operations, major awards, a
national poll and its annual All-America team.
For more information on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the
FWAA, contact FWAA
executive director Steve Richardson (972-713-6198 or