DALLAS (FWAA) – Carlton Johnson snagged three interceptions and spearheaded Fresno State’s commanding defensive effort in a 29-0 win at Arizona State, tying for the most picks in an FBS game this season. The senior cornerback’s takeaways plus three tackles that led to the Bulldogs’ first shutout of a Power 5 opponent since 1986 earned Johnson the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Sept. 16, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
Each week 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 finalists for the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 15. The national defensive player of the year will be chosen from those finalists who are part of the 2023 FWAA All-America Team and presented with the trophy at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet on Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Players may be added or removed from the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list during the course of the season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player, including Johnson this week, will be added at that time.
The picks, his first of the season, are a career-high for Johnson, a 6-0 senior from Moreno Valley, Calif., and tie the school and Mountain West Conference record. It was an unusual trifecta in that each of Johnson’s three interceptions came against a different ASU quarterback and were part of a hawkish eight takeaways by Fresno State (3-0), five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Johnson’s first interception came on ASU’s second pass attempt. The last Bulldogs player to grab three interceptions in a single game was unanimous All-American safety Phillip Thomas in 2012. Johnson is the sixth Bulldog to have a three-interception game.
The three interceptions vault Johnson into a tie for the national lead with six other players. He is one of two players to grab three in a single game so far this season. The effort earned Johnson the Mountain West’s Defensive Player of the Week honor – he is the first Bulldogs’ cornerback to win that award since the school joined the league in 2012.
Fresno State has not had a Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner or a finalist in its past. Thomas, also from the defensive backfield, is the only Bulldog to earn FWAA All-America honors (2012).
Owner of the FBS’ second-longest win streak now at 12 games (Georgia, 20), Fresno State (3-0) closes its non-conference schedule Saturday hosting Kent State in a 10:30 p.m. ET broadcast on CBSSN.
The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.
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. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday. For more information about the NCFAA and its award programs, visit the redesigned NCFAA.org or follow on Twitter at @NCFAA.
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region. Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than 80 companies. The Club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches. Through individual and corporate support, nearly $3,000,000 has been raised and donated to benefit the Touchdown Club's scholarship efforts.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 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 email@example.com.