On Friday, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced that Virginia inside linebacker Micah Kiser and free safety Quin Blanding had been named to the 2016 preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List along with 86 other collegiate defensive players across the country. This year’s list consists of 31 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 21 defensive ends, and seven tackles. UVA is one of four ACC schools with at least two members on the watch list.
This is Blanding’s second time on the Trophy Watch List after making the 2015 list.
Blanding, a second-team All-American and first-team All-ACC honoree last year, is returning for his third season with the Cavaliers in 2016. Blanding started all 12 games last season and averaged 9.58 tackles per game, second best in the ACC.
Kiser was a first team all-ACC honoree after leading the league with 9.75 tackles per game his sophomore season. Like Blanding, Kiser started all 12 games and the two became the nation’s only defensive duo to finish the year ranked number one and two in tackles for their respective conferences.
Throughout the season players may be added or removed from the watch list, and the FWAA will continue to announce a National Defensive Player of the Week from early September to mid November. If not already on the watch list, the honored player will be added at that time. On November 17th, the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the trophy who are part of the 2016 FWAA All-America team. After voting input from the association’s entire membership, the committee will select the 26-man All-America team and the Nagurski finalists. Committee members will then select the winner, the best defensive player in America.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy has been awarded annually since 1993, and is named after Bronko Nagurski, who played football for the University of Minnesota and the Chicago Bears. This year, the award will be presented at the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday, December 5th.