Football Writers Association of America Nov. 17, 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
972-713-6198
Winner to be announced at Dec. 12 banquet in Charlotte, N.C.
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FIVE FINALISTS NAMED FOR
2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY

DALLAS (FWAA) Five finalists for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy were announced on Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The Bronko Nagurski TrophyAlabama safety Mark Barron, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, Illinois end Whitney Mercilus and Penn State tackle Devon Still are vying for one of the FWAA's highest honors, its National Defensive Player of the Year award.

The winner will be announced on Dec. 12 and presented the Bronko Nagurski Trophy at a gala banquet at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., where Georgia head coach Mark Richt will be the keynote speaker.

In addition, the FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will award the fifth Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by Florida East Coast Railway, to Jack Youngblood, a standout end at Florida and a member of the 1970 FWAA All-America team.

The FWAA's National Defensive Player of the Year Award is named after Bronko Nagurski, who dominated college football at the University of Minnesota as a bruising fullback and defensive tackle from 1927-29. He could have been an All-American at any position, playing 60 minutes as the best player wherever he lined up.

A look at the five 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists, as selected by the FWAA All-America Committee:

Mark Barron, Free Safety, Alabama, 6-2, 218, Sr. (Mobile, Ala.): An anchor of a Crimson Tide defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in the four major statistical categories rush defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. Barron, a 2010 FWAA All-America, has made 57 tackles this season (33 unassisted) for the once-beaten team. Barron has two interceptions and has made four tackles for seven yards in losses. He has five passes broken up and one quarterback hurry. He had an interception and a fumble recovery in a victory at Penn State. 

Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU, 6-0, 185, Jr. (Shreveport, La.): One of the stalwarts on a Tiger unit that ranks among the top six teams in college football in rush, pass, scoring and total defense. He has four interceptions with 128 yards in returns and one touchdown. He has made 38 tackles (22 unassisted) and collected one stop for a loss. Claiborne has broken up five passes and has registered one quarterback hurry. In a 19-6 victory over Mississippi State, he intercepted two passes.

Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College, 6-3, 237, Jr. (Cincinnati, Ohio): He has 168 tackles 30 more than anyone else in the nation. He has 89 unassisted and 79 assisted tackles. His unassisted total leads the nation. He also has two interceptions, 10 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries. He has double-digit tackles in every game this season. He has played in 36 career games and has had double-digit tackles in 33, including 32 in a row. Kuechly was also a Nagurski finalist in 2010.

Whitney Mercilus, End, Illinois, 6-4, 265, Jr. (Akron, Ohio): Illinois started the season 6-0 and Mercilus is one of the big reasons. He ranks fourth in the country in tackles for loss (17.5). Those tackles total 93 yards in losses, of which 12.5 are sacks (82 yards in losses). He has forced seven fumbles to lead the nation. He has six quarterback hurries and one pass breakup for college football's No. 9 team in total defense (288.3 yards per game). Overall, he has made 47 total tackles (24 assisted).

Devon Still, Tackle, Penn State, 6-5, 310, Sr. (Wilmington, Del.): Penn State's defense ranks third in points allowed (12.9 per game), trailing only Alabama and LSU. And the Nittany Lions' defense is eighth nationally in yards allowed per game (287.2). Still has been the defensive leader and ranks sixth in the country in tackles for loss (16.5) for 75 yards, of which four are sacks for 34 yards in losses. He has one pass breakup and one forced fumble. He has 53 total tackles (25 assisted).

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 jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women 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 and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or 972-713-6198.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official Web site, ncfaa.org.

Related link:
All-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy winners (from touchdownclub.com)

2011 FWAA ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE
Kirk Bohls Austin American-Statesman Big 12
Tommy Hicks Mobile Press-Register Sun Belt
Mike Huguenin rivals.com ACC
Tony Jones Salt Lake Tribune WAC
Tom Kensler Denver Post Pac-12
Iliana Limon Orlando Sentinel C-USA
Kelly Lyell Fort Collins Coloradoan Mountain West
Brett McMurphy cbssports.com Big East
Randy Peterson Des Moines Register Big Ten
Zach Silva Toledo Blade MAC
Andy Staples si.com SEC
Phil Steele Phil Steele Publications National