Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watchlist Nominee

The Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America have announced the 2003 watch list of candidates for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top defensive college player. Miami middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is one of 36 players included on the list.

The award, named after Hall of Famer and University of Minnesota and Chicago Bears star Bronko Nagurski, recognizes the best all-around defensive players throughout the year with the Bronko Nagurski Player of the Week. In November, the FWAA All-America committee will select five finalists and the trophy will be presented to the winner at a banquet on December 8 in Charlotte, N.C.

The Watch List serves as guide to the best players in the game and is updated each week during the college football season. Of last season's five Bronko Nagurski finalists, only Georgia defensive end David Pollack returns for the 2003 season. It is the 11th straight year the FWAA has honored the Defensive Player of the Year.

A unanimous first-team All-BIG EAST selection and a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award in 2002, Vilma led the Hurricanes in tackles with 133 (75 solos), had eight tackles for losses totaling 13 yards, a forced fumble, recovered two fumbles (returned one for a touchdown), broke up five passes, and had four quarterback hurries. In addition to leading the Hurricanes in tackles the last two seasons, Vilma has also been a standout in the classroom earning first-team Academic All-America honors last year. He recently was named the recipient of the Walt Kichefski Endowed Scholarship recognizing outstanding academic and athletic achievement by the UM Sports Hall of Fame.

The 800-member Football Writers Association of America selects the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list candidates, identifies the players of the week and names the trophy winner. The Charlotte Touchdown Club, a non-profit organization that raises funds for scholarships, has presented the trophy each year since 1995.

The distinguished recipients who have been awarded the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in past years include Rob Waldrop of Arizona (1993), Warren Sapp of Miami (1994), Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern 1995 and '96), Charles Woodson of Michigan (1997), Champ Bailey of Georgia (1998), Corey Moore of Virginia Tech (1999), Dan Morgan of Miami (2000), and Roy Williams of Oklahoma (2001). The 2002 winner was Terrell Suggs, a defensive end from Arizona State University.

The following 36 players make up the 2003 Watch List:

Tim Anderson, DL, Ohio State
Jason Babin, DL, Western Michigan
Atari Bigby, DB, Central Florida
Michael Boulware, LB, Florida State
Jamaal Brimmer, DB, UNLV
Jorge Cordova, DE, Nevada
Karlos Dansby, LB, Auburn
Rod Davis, LB, Southern Miss
Brandon Everage, DB, Oklahoma
Matt Grootegoed, LB, USC
Claude Harriott, DE, Pittsburgh
Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma
Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas
Jason Kaufusi, DL, Utah
Brandon Kennedy, DT, North Texas
Teddy Lehman, LB, Oklahoma
Jim Leonhard, DB, Wisconsin
Justin Miller, CB, Clemson
Kirk Morrison, LB, San Diego State
Antwan Odom, DE, Alabama
Philip Perry, DE, San Jose State
David Pollack, DE, Georgia
Etric Pruitt, DB, Southern Miss
Bob Sanders, DB, Iowa
Stuart Schweigert, FS, Purdue
Darrion Scott, DL, Ohio State
Richard Seigler, LB, Oregon State
Isaac Sopoaga, DT, Hawaii
Derrick Strait, DB, Oklahoma
Marcus Tubbs, DT, Texas
Kenechi Udeze, DE, USC
Jonathan Vilma, LB, Miami
Courtney Watson, LB, Notre Dame
Corey Webster, CB, LSU
Grant Wiley, LB, West Virginia
Madieu Williams, CB, Maryland

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