CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) – Texas defensive end Brian
Orakpo on Sunday night claimed the 2008 Bronko Nagurski Trophy,
which annually is awarded to the best defensive player in college
Orakpo became the 16th winner of the award as voted upon by the
Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and sponsored by
the Charlotte Touchdown Club. He is the second Texas player to win
the award following linebacker Derrick Johnson in 2004.
"When you look at all the key plays made by all the other finalists
for this award, it's a great honor to win this award," Orakpo said
after being presented with the trophy at the banquet at the Westin
"This has been a huge weekend for me. Yesterday, I graduated
from Texas. And tonight, I won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. I'd like
to thank the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. I've had to
fight through a lot of injuries, so receiving this award is even
(Photo: Ron Deshaies)
Orakpo, a 6-4, 260-pound senior from Houston, is considered a
top NFL prospect and will receive his degree in Sports Management
this month. He was a prep basketball star who didn't focus on football
until his senior year at Lamar High School.
But he has developed into one of college football's strongest
and best players while at Texas.
He entered Texas weighing 210 pounds, but 50 pounds later, he
has only eight percent body fat. He squats 600 pounds, benches presses
515 pounds and power cleans 380. Orakpo has run a 4.6 40-yard dash
and has registered a 42-inch vertical leap.
"He has such an unbelievable combination of strength and speed
that he's really unblockable," Texas coach Mack Brown said of Orakpo.
"As an offense, you have to account for him on every play or he'll
just take over the game. Even when teams have tried to double team
him or get him out of his game, he's such a smart, determined and
gifted player that he's found a way to still have a big impact."
During Texas' four-game, mid-season stretch against ranked Big
12 teams – Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech – Orakpo
was simply sensational. He registered 16 tackles, three sacks, seven
tackles for losses, nine pressures, a forced fumble and helped force
At the tail end of that stretch, Texas had defeated Oklahoma,
Missouri and Oklahoma State, but Orakpo missed most of the second
half of the Texas Tech loss with a knee injury.
"It really hurt us when he went down for the second half of the
game against Texas Tech," Brown continued. "I have never been around
a player who works any harder than 'Rak.' He never takes a play
off in a practice or a game, is always in the weight room working
to get bigger, stronger and faster, studies his film and prepares
as well as anyone."
Orakpo's efforts certainly mirror the person for whom the trophy
is named. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is given in memory of the legendary
Nagurski, a former All-American lineman at Minnesota (1927-29) and
star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s.
The four other 2008 Nagurski Trophy finalists were TCU end Jerry
Hughes, USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso
Smith and Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes.
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 email@example.com).
The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit
organization founded in 1941, consists of nearly 1,000 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