The finalists have been announced for the 2011 Bronco Nagurski trophy, given to college football's defensive player of the year.
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have named their five finalists for the 2011 Bronco Nagurski Trophy. The trophy is the FWAA's national Defensive Player of the Year award and is voted on by college football journalists. Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers of the Clemson Tigers won the award in 2010. Here are the 2011 finalists.
Mark Barron, free safety, Alabama Crimson Tide
Morris Claiborne, cornerback, LSU Tigers
Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College Eagles
Whitney Mercilus, defensive end, Illinois Fighting Illini
Devon Still, defensive tackle, Penn St. Nittany Lions
The presence of Barron and Claiborne on the finalist list will be of little surprise to anyone. LSU and Alabama are arguably the two best defenses in the country, and Barron and Claiborne anchor their respective secondaries. Kuechly's team is struggling, but the BC linebacker is the nation's leader in tackles. Mercilus has 17.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks on the season. Still has 16.5 tackles for a loss and anchors a Penn State defense ranked third in the country for points against.
For more college football news and opinion, check out SB Nation's NCAA Football hub.