DALLAS (FWAA) – Caden Jenkins’ first career interception kickstarted Baylor’s largest comeback in school history, and the cornerback contributed again with a fourth-quarter fumble return for a touchdown Saturday in the Bears’ 36-35 win at UCF. The dynamic game-changing plays earned Jenkins, a freshman, the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Sept. 30, 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 Jenkins this week, will be added at that time.
Jenkins, a 6-foot-1 cornerback from Lewisville, Texas, stole the interception on the Baylor 14-yard line to snuff out a UCF drive in the red zone with 37 seconds left in the third quarter and the Bears trailing 35-10. Nine minutes later following two Baylor touchdowns and two-point conversions, Jenkins grabbed a loose ball and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown that brought the Bears to within 35-33 with 6:02 left. Isaiah Hankins’ 25-yard field goal with 1:21 left was the decider.
Jenkins also had two tackles in the game and earned the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Week award.
"There's always been just a great confidence and energy with him," Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. "And there's been no flinching with him from the minute he stepped foot on campus over here. And then, just as a person, just a warmth and a welcoming aspect to him that you want to like him and you want to root for him. And I think the best is yet to come for him."
Baylor has not had a Bronko Nagurski Trophy honoree in its past. But its two most recent FWAA All-Americans have come from the defensive side in linemen James Lynch (2019) and Andrew Billings (2015). The Bears’ last defensive back to earn FWAA All-America honors was Thomas Everett in 1986.
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.
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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.