Seven Mountain West Defenders Named to Nagurski Trophy Watchlist
Andrew Wingard, Jahlani Tavai and Tyler Horton headline a group of seven Mountain West defenders on this year’s Nagurski Trophy watchlist.
Get ready for a lot of good defense this fall.
Watchlist season continues this morning with the release of the Nagurski Trophy watchlist. Given annually to the nation’s best defensive athlete, there are seven names from the Mountain West among a whopping 97 entrants on this year’s preseason list.
The Wyoming Cowboys made the biggest waves on this year’s list of any team in the conference, landing three players. Safety Andrew Wingard, defensive end Carl Granderson and defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, all of whom were first-team all-Mountain West selections last December, hope to help one the nation’s best units remain near the top of yards per play allowed (4.67, tied for 8th in the FBS) and takeaways (38, 1st in the FBS).
Boise State also landed a pair of defenders on the Nagurski list, as well. Tyler Horton was also a first-team all-conference selection in 2017, while defensive lineman David Moa earned a second-team nod. Horton broke up 11 passes, fourth in the Mountain West, and grabbed two interceptions while Moa, for whom 2018 represents his third appearance on the Nagurski’s preseason list, had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Hawaii’s Jahlani Tavai makes his second appearance on the Nagurski watchlist, too, after collecting 124 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks for the Warriors defense last fall.
Finally, a position switch didn’t discourage the Nagurski voters from including Nevada linebacker Malik Reed. He spent last year as a defensive end and continued to excel as one of the Mountain West’s best pass-rushers, earning ten tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2017.
Last year’s Nagurski Trophy winner was North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb.