This is the second time this week that the duo made the watch list for a national award after making the same list for the Bednarik Award on Monday. DL Sheldon Day was given a spot on the watch list for the Outland Award, given to the best interior lineman on offense or defense.
Were either Smith or Russell to win the Nagurski Trophy they would join some exalted company of future NFL stars such as past winners Terrell Suggs, Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o also won the award in 2012.
Notre Dame’s schedule will see them face teams stuffed full of players from both watch lists with Stanford having four players included on the Nagurski Trophy list.
Rice - DL Christian Covington (Nagurski Trophy and Outland Award)
Michigan - DE Frank Clark, DB Blake Countess, LB Jake Ryan (All Nagurski Trophy)
Syracuse - OT Sean Hickey (Outland Trophy)
Florida State - DE Mario Edwards, DB P.J. Williams (Both Nagurski Trophy), OT Cameron Erving, G Tre Jackson, G Josue Matias (All Outland Trophy)
Arizona State - OT Jamil Douglas (Outland Trophy)
Louisville - DE Lorenzo Mauldin (Nagurski Trophy), C Jake Smith (Outland Trophy)
Northwestern - C Brandon Vitabile (Outland Trophy)
USC - C Max Tuerk (Outland Trophy), DL Leonard Williams (Both Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy), DB Su’a Cravens, LB Hayes Pullard (Both Nagurski Trophy)
Notre Dame has a storied history with both trophies. Besides Te’o’s win in 2012, DB Shane Walton was also a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy in 2002, which was won by Terrell Suggs.
Notre Dame players have won the Outland Award three times, including in two of the first three years it was issued (George Connor in 1946 and Bill Fischer in 1948). DE Ross Browner also won the award in 1976 and there will be a special presentation for him at this year’s ceremony where he will be finally issued an actual trophy as there wasn’t one given when he initially won the award.