Alabama's Campbell is Bronko Nagurski Trophy National Defensive Player of the Week

DALLAS (FWAA) – Alabama shut out Tennessee in the second half Saturday keyed by a career-best performance by linebacker Jihaad Campbell. For his 10 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown in 'Bama’s 34-20 win, Campbell earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Oct. 21, 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 Watts this week, will be added at that time. Already on the preseason watch list from Notre Dame are linebacker JD Bertrand and cornerback Benjamin Morrison.

Campbell, a 6-3, 230-pound sophomore from Erial, N.J., via Florida’s IMG Academy, stood out among Alabama’s stiffening defensive effort. Campbell’s 10 tackles were a career-high and were second among the Tide defenders on the day. He added a tackle for a loss (minus-four yards) and made a fourth-down tackle that gave the Crimson Tide the ball at the Tennessee 34-yard line in the second quarter.

Midway through the fourth quarter with Alabama leading 27-20, fellow linebacker Chris Braswell created a sack-fumble in the Tennessee backfield, which Campbell picked up and returned 24 yards for a touchdown and a two-score lead with 7:26 left.  Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the Crimson Tide defense held the Vols to just 129 yards and 33 rushing yards in the second half to spur the comeback.

Campbell is tied for sixth at Alabama with 39 tackles having played in seven of eight games. He has 3.0 TFL’s and a half-sack on the season in addition to the one fumble recovery.

Alabama has had the last two Bronko Nagurski Trophy winners with Will Anderson from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and four overall including defensive end Jonathan Allen (2016) and cornerback Antonio Langham (in 1993 prior to the Bronko Nagurski naming when the award was the FWAA National Defensive Player of the Year). The Crimson Tide have had at least a finalist for the award the past three seasons and in 11 of the last 12.  

Alabama (7-1) is idle this week. The Crimson Tide hosts LSU on Nov. 4.

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 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