DALLAS (FWAA) Temple safety Benny Walls returned a fumble for a touchdown, intercepted a pass and had six tackles to lead the Owls to a dominating 24-2 win over Georgia Tech. For the two takeaways as well as 139 return yards, Walls has earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 28, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
Walls, a senior from Cinnaminson, N.J., is the first Temple player to earn the FWAA's National Defensive Player of the Week since 2015 when Tyler Matakevich won the weekly honor on his way to winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
The win was Temple's best defensive performance in four seasons, as the Owls allowed their fewest points since shutting out Tulane on Nov. 16, 2016. Walls' two takeaways were a key in the defensive shutout. In the third quarter, he scooped up a fumble on a strip-sack by defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown that extended Temple's lead to 21-0. In the fourth quarter, with Georgia Tech at the Temple 14-yard line, Walls picked off a pass in the end zone and returned it 65 yards to thwart the drive.
"I saw the quarterback scrambling out and then saw Ifeanyi Maijeh and Chapelle Russell hit him," Walls said. "I saw the ball bounce out. I wasn't going to fall on it I grabbed it since it was in front of me and picked it up and scored. We always harp on running to the ball in practice. It came right to me. I hadn't scored a touchdown since I was a senior in high school."
Walls is third on the Owls in total tackles with 22, with 19 of them solo efforts. He also has a half-sack this season.
Each Tuesday during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. Walls will be added to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Wed., Nov. 20. The winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2019 FWAA All-America Team.
The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association's entire membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists. The committee members then select the winner as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, will be held on Mon., Dec. 9 in Charlotte. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner's announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award.
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
About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 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 1991, 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 email@example.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.
2019 Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Players of the Week
Weekend of Aug. 31: Alijah Halliburton, Wyoming
· Weekend of Sept. 7: Evan Weaver, Cal
· Weekend of Sept. 14: David Reese II, Florida
· Weekend of Sept. 21: Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State
· Weekend of Sept. 28: Benny Walls, Temple
· Weekend of Oct. 5: Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
· Weekend of Oct. 12: Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina
· Weekend of Oct. 19: Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
· Weekend of Oct. 26: Chase Young, Ohio State
· Weekend of Nov. 2: Dele Harding, Illinois
· Weekend of Nov. 9: Terrel Bernard, Baylor