DALLAS (FWAA) – Safety Devin Grant set the tone for Buffalo’s stalwart defensive effort Saturday, tipping a pass to himself and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown in the Bulls’ 37-13 home win over Central Michigan. For his three interceptions that included another pick-six later in the game, Grant has earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Oct. 7, 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 Grant this week, will be added at that time. Buffalo linebacker Shaun Dolac and safety Marcus Fuqua were on the preseason Watch List.
Grant, a 6-4 sophomore from Elmont, N.Y., was a terror for the CMU offense in both halves. The first interception came on the Chippewas’ third offensive play. The last one came on CMU’s opening drive of the second half when he stepped in front of the pass and raced 58 yards down the sideline for the score that gave Buffalo a 30-7 lead.
The second pick helped break open a close game in the second quarter. The Bulls led 13-7 late in the second quarter when Grant snagged his second interception, one of four takeaways for Buffalo. The short field turned into a touchdown a minute later, and a field goal as time expired put the Bulls ahead 23-7 at halftime.
Grant tied the program record for interceptions in a game and became the first Bull to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a game. He is the first player in Buffalo's FBS era (since 1999) to have two pick-sixes in a game and the first Bull since Marcus Fuqua (last season against Toledo) to have three interceptions in a game. CMU averaged only 5.7 yards per pass attempt in the game. Grant also earned national player of the week honors from the Bednarik Award, the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award and the Walter Camp Award as the Mid-American Conference’s East Division Defensive Player of the Week.
The three picks move Grant into a six-way tie for the national lead in interceptions with four. Grant, who worked his way into the starting lineup for Buffalo’s Camellia Bowl appearance last year, is second on the Bulls’ roster in total tackles with 34.0 and has two pass break-ups on the season.
Buffalo has not had a Bronko Nagurski Trophy honoree in its past. The Bulls’ first of three all-time FWAA All-Americans came from its defense when Khalil Mack earned First Team honors in 2013. Buffalo had two second-teamers on the 2020 FWAA All-America team in offensive lineman Kayode Awosika and running back Jaret Patterson.
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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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.