CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) Will Anderson
Jr., a dynamic playmaking linebacker for top-ranked Alabama
and a constant nemesis in every opponents' backfield as the nation's
sack and tackles-for-loss leader, has been named as the recipient
of the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy by the
Football Writers Association of America.
Anderson was selected from among two other finalists that
also included Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Oregon
defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Anderson is only the second player at Alabama to win the Bronko
Nagurski Trophy, joining defensive end Jonathan Allen in 2016. The
Crimson Tide (12-1) have had Bronko Nagurski finalists in nine of
the last 11 seasons, most recently nose guard Quinnen Williams in
The FWAA All-America Committee made the selection of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner as part of the 2021 FWAA All-America
Team, which will be released on Friday. The official presentation of the trophy was made tonight at
the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree at the
Charlotte Convention Center.
The 6-4, 243-pound sophomore from Hampton, Ga., is the primary
cog in an Alabama defense that is fourth nationally in rushing defense,
giving up 82.9 yards per game. Anderson is versatile in "affecting
the quarterback," a non-statistical term but a favorite of head
coach Nick Saban when addressing the media. A force in the backfield,
he leads the nation in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (32.5)
and added a sack and two TFL's in this past Saturday's 41-24 win
over previously top-ranked Georgia in the Southeastern Conference
Anderson has had at least one sack in 10 of 13 games and his
92 tackles (53 solo) are second on the team and include and at least
one TFL in 12 of 13 games. He has been credited by the Alabama coaching
staff with a team-high 38 quarterback pressures this season.
To put his season in finer perspective, Anderson was the 2020
FWAA National Freshman Player of the Year following a stellar season
a year ago. But this year's totals have boosted him to be on pace
to reach record territory. Only one player at Alabama College
Football Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas (1985-88) has
averaged more sacks and TFL numbers in his career. Thomas finished
his Alabama career averaging 1.06 sacks per game (52 in 49 career
games). Anderson, with 22.5 in 26 games, is currently at 0.87 sacks
per game with at least one more to play in the College Football
Playoff this season. But Anderson leads Thomas' career TFL numbers
currently averaging 1.65 per game (43 in 26 games) to Thomas' 1.39
(or 68 in 49 games).
Anderson, with 3.5 more sacks, can tie Thomas for the No. 2 spot
for single-season sacks (18) in the Alabama record book. His 32.5
TFL's are already No. 2 behind Thomas' 39 from the 1988 season.
Anderson was the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week
on Oct. 16 following a four-sack game at Mississippi State, the
most in a single game since Thomas did it in 1988. He earned the
SEC's Defensive Player of the Week honor five times in 12 weeks
and was named one of the Crimson Tide's permanent captains and one
of two defensive players of the year at its team banquet Sunday.
|Alabama's Will Anderson
Jr. (Alabama Athletics)
Davis, the Georgia defensive tackle who was a fellow Bronko
Nagurski finalist and a finalist for three other postseason
awards including the FWAA's Outland Trophy as the nation's best
interior lineman, gave Anderson high praise in an interview last
week while preparing for the SEC Championship Game.
"He's a game wrecker," Davis said. Watching his film and just
seeing him, he's explosive. He's definitely one of those guys you
have to make sure to keep contained. It's great to see him play."
Top-ranked Alabama claimed the No. 1 seed in the College Football
Playoff on Sunday and faces No. 4 seed Cincinnati in the semifinals
at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 31 in Arlington, Texas.
Anderson is the fifth player from the SEC to win the Bronko Nagurski
Trophy, following Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky, 2018), Jonathan Allen
(DE, Alabama, 2016), Glenn Dorsey (DT, LSU, 2007) and Champ Bailey
(DB, Georgia, 1998).
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.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National
College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses
the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997,
the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating
to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America
consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers
and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works
to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards
and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information
about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive
Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or
About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
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 and donated nearly $3 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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Alabama's Anderson wins 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy
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