Football Writers Association of America Nov. 17, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
Junior linebacker seals comeback win over SMU
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DALLAS (FWAA) Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins picked off an SMU pass with just over a minute left to seal another Golden Hurricane comeback, this one a 21-point rally in the second half for a 28-24 win over the No. 19 Mustangs. Collins had six tackles, two tackles for losses and a sack to earn the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games in the weekend of Nov. 14, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.


This is the first time for a Tulsa player to earn this weekly honor.

Collins, a 6-4, 260-pound junior from Hominy, Okla., led a defensive effort that held an SMU offense that entered the game eighth in the nation in total offense (526.3 ypg) to just 351 yards, and more importantly shut the Mustangs out in the second half giving up only 165 yards in the final two quarters while its offense mounted the comeback. The win marked the first time in school history that Tulsa has defeated two ranked teams in the same season; it also took down No. 11 UCF on the road Oct. 3.

Collins' interception at midfield with 1:29 left clinched the win that kept the Golden Hurricane undefeated in the American Athletic Conference. He leads the conference in interceptions per game (0.60) and has three interceptions and 10.0 tackles for loss this season. In five games thus far, including three against top-25 opponents (Oklahoma State, UCF and SMU), Collins has 24 solo tackles among his 33 total stops and 10 TFL's for minus-45 yards and four sacks. He took back one of his three interceptions for a 38-yard touchdown at USF and the 2018 FWAA Freshman All-American has been named The American's Defensive Player of the Week three times this season.

Tulsa, nationally-ranked in the AP poll (25th) for the first time since 2010, hosts Tulane at 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday on ESPN.

Each Tuesday during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce three finalists for the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Dec. 9. The national defensive player of the year will announced on Dec. 22 and chosen from those finalists who are part of the 2020 FWAA All-America Team.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw "Bronko" Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. 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 game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
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. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is

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2020 Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Players of the Week
Weekend of Sept. 5: Isaiah Kaufusi, LB, BYU
Weekend of Sept. 12: Curtis Ryans, DE, Georgia Tech
Weekend of Sept. 19: Tavante Beckett, LB, Marshall
Weekend of Sept. 26: Jahron McPherson, S, Kansas State
Weekend of Oct. 3: Bumper Pool, LB, Arkansas
Weekend of Oct. 10: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Weekend of Oct. 17: Grant Morgan, LB, Arkansas
Weekend of Oct. 24: Nick Andersen, S, Wake Forest
Weekend of Oct. 31: Joseph Ossai, DE/LB, Texas
Weekend of Nov. 7: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Weekend of Nov. 14: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Weekend of Nov. 21: Blake Gallagher, LB, Northwestern
Weekend of Nov. 28: Nate Landman, LB, Colorado

Related links:
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (All-Time Winners, Finalists and Players of the Week)
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