July 13, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia free safety Quin Blanding and inside linebacker Micah Kiser have been named to the 2016 preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced Friday. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club award the Nagurski Trophy annually to the nation’s best defensive player.
Both Blanding and Kiser have previously been named this summer to the 2017 Bednarik Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List. This is the second year in a row both Blanding and Kiser have been on the preseason Nagurski Trophy Watch List, while Blanding was on the 2015 preseason list as a sophomore.
Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va.) was named a Sporting News and Sports Illustrated second-team All-American in 2016. A two-time first-team All-ACC honoree, Blanding started all 12 games for UVA in 2016 and finished the year No. 2 in the ACC and No. 9 in the nation with 10.0 tackles per game. Blanding has finished the past three seasons No. 2 in the ACC in tackles and his 358 career stops currently ranks No. 9 all-time in the UVA annals.
Kiser (Baltimore, Md.) was a Football Writers Association of America second-team All-American in 2016 after finishing No. 1 in the ACC and No. 4 in the nation with 11.2 tackles per game. The two-time first-team All-ACC honoree has led the league in tackles each of the past two seasons.
Since the ACC began tracking tackle leaders in 1990, no defensive duo from the same team has finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in tackles in back-to-back years.
Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. Once again, the FWAA will choose a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday throughout the season. If not already on the watch list, the honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 16.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2017 FWAA All-America team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the 26-man All-America team and eventually the Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in America.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Notre Dame’s Ross Browner, a member of the FWAA’s 1976 and 1977 All-America Teams, the 1976 Outland Trophy winner and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.
The FWAA has named 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.