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Rebels Make Outland, Nagurski Trophy Watch Lists

Photo courtesy of Chuck Barnes
Photo courtesy of Chuck Barnes

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced Friday the preseason watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy, on which Ole Miss Rebel juniors were a large part.

Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil were included on the Outland Trophy list, while Nkemdiche and defensive back Tony Conner made the Nagurski list.

The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman, offensive or defensive. The winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects the 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

The list will be trimmed to six or seven semifinalists on Nov. 19. Five days later three Outland Trophy finalists will be named by the FWAA. The winner of the 70th Outland Trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the 20th century, will be announced on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 10 for the first time from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Outland Trophy presentation banquet, sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, will be held on Jan. 14, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. This year, Maryland’s Randy White, the 1975 Outland Trophy winner, will be honored and presented an Outland Trophy, which was not given in the era in which he won the award.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually to college football’s defensive player of the year. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2015 trophy on Nov. 19. The winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2015 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 college football during the FWAA’s 75th anniversary year.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Dec. 7 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn 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.

Last year, Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson was one of the five Nagurski Trophy finalists.

Nkemdiche is regarded as one of the nation’s premier defensive players as a 6-foot-4, 296-pound defensive tackle. The Loganville, Georgia, native was a second team All-America pick and first team All-SEC selection last year when he tallied 35 tackles, 4.0 TFLs and two sacks and helped Ole Miss lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 16.0 points per game. In his two-year career, he has 69 tackles, 12.0 TFLs and 4.0 sacks.

Tunsil is one of the country’s top returning offensive linemen. He has been the Rebels’ full-time starting left tackle since the early portion of his freshman year and has been personally responsible for only two sacks during that time. The Lake City, Florida, native earned several second- and third-team All-America accolades and was an All-SEC first team pick by the Associated Press last year.

Conner, from nearby Batesville, Mississippi, has been a force in the Rebels’ defensive backfield during his first two seasons. He has racked up 135 tackles, 14 TFLs, two sacks and two interceptions. A two-year starter at the hybrid Huskie position (a safety who has to cover passes and often lines up in the box, as well), Conner has the size (6-0, 215) and speed to create big problems for the opposing offense. He was a second team AP All-SEC pick last season.

Other preseason watch lists that have been announced:

– Evan Engram – John Mackey Award

– Will Gleeson – Ray Guy Award

– Robert Nkemdiche – Chuck Bednarik Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy

– Laquon Treadwell – Maxwell Award

– Jaylen Walton – Paul Hornung Award

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/OleMissFootball), in addition to www.OleMissSports.com.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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