Utah State junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell was named to the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, it was announced Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America.
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 the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fackrell is one of just three Mountain West defenders named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, along with Fresno State senior safety Derron Smith and Fresno State senior nose guard Tyeler Davison.
In all, Fackrell is one of 81 Football Bowl Subdivision players named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, including 24 linebackers.
Entering his junior season, Fackrell is also one of 40 college football players named to the College Football Performance Awards Linebacker of the Year Trophy Watch List, one of 76 players named to the Bednarik Award Watch List and a first-team preseason all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Fackrell, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound junior from Mesa, Arizona (Mesa HS), was named an honorable mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News and earned second-team all-Mountain West honors a year ago as he finished the season ranked first on the team with 13.0 tackles for loss, tied for first with two forced fumbles and second with his 5.0 sacks, while he ranked fourth on the team with 82 total tackles (37-solo, 45-assist). He averaged 5.9 tackles per game to rank 35th in the Mountain West. During the season, he recorded three quarterback hurries, recovered one fumble, intercepted one pass and registered one pass breakup. He was also named the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Linebacker of the Week following USU's 47-10 home win against Hawai'i as he recorded nine tackles, including 0.5 for loss, to go along with an interception return of 99 yards for his first career defensive touchdown, which ranks as the third-longest interception return in Utah State and Mountain West history.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Fackrell earned first-team all-WAC honors and was named Utah State’s first-ever Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American as he finished the year ranking second on the team and eighth in the WAC with three interceptions (0.23 pg), third on the team and 13th in the WAC with 8.0 tackles for loss (0.62 pg), and fourth on the team and 13th in the WAC with 87 tackles (6.7 pg), which ranks third all-time at in school history among freshmen.
Once again, the FWAA will choose a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday throughout the season. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2014 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 annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 8, at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Utah State opens the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Tennessee and plays its first home game the following weekend against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.