LOGAN – Utah State junior linebacker David Woodward has been named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List, it was announced Tuesday by the Football Writers Association of America.
The Nagurski Award honors the nation's best defensive player and is represented by 92 candidates. 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 FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993.
Woodward is one of four Mountain West players on the list, joining San Diego State's Kyahva Tezino, Fresno State's Mykal Walker and Boise State's Curtis Weaver.
Furthermore, Woodward is one of four players from the Beehive State to make the list, along with BYU's Khyiris Tonga and Utah's Bradlee Anae and Jaylon Johnson.
Woodward, a 6-2, 230-pounder from Olympia, Washington (Olympia HS), earned first-team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus (PFF) and third-team All-America honors from The Associated Press (AP) as a sophomore in 2018, as he started all 13 games and finished the season with 134 tackles (52-solo, 82-assist), which included 5.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, to go along with two forced fumbles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and four quarterback hurries. He was also named the PFF Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year as he ranked first in the MW and 11th in the nation with 134 tackles (11.2 pg).
Following his sophomore season, Woodward graded out as the top linebacker in the nation, according to PFF, at 91.6% as he ranked fourth among linebackers with a 92.4 grade against the run and fourth in coverage at 90.5 and only missed two tackles all season.
Woodward has also been named to the Butkus Award Watch List, a preseason third-team All-American by Athlon Sports, a fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele's Magazine and first-team all-Mountain West by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele's Magazine, along with being named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List, which is awarded annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year and College Football America Yearbook (CFAY) Group of Five Preseason Starting Lineup.
Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.
The 25th Annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy 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 full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Utah State returns nine starters as part of 32 letterwinners, including two All-Americans and eight players that earned various all-Mountain West honors, from last year’s team that ended the season ranked 21st in the final Amway Coaches poll and 22nd in the final AP poll as the Aggies tied the school record for wins and best record with an 11-2 mark following their 52-13 win against North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl.
Utah State opens the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30, at Wake Forest, and begins the home portion of its schedule the following weekend against Stony Brook on Saturday, Sept. 7. Mountain West play begins for the Aggies at San Diego State on Saturday, Sept. 21.