FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team has two student-athletes on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, it was announced Friday.
Defensive end Jake Bequette and linebacker Jerry Franklin were named to the watch list for the award that is given annually to the nation’s best defensive player. Bequette and Franklin each appear on their second watch list of the week after both were included on the Bednarik Award Watch List released Tuesday.
Bequette ranked fifth in the SEC and led the Razorbacks with 7.0 sacks in 2010, the eighth-highest single-season total in school history. The Little Rock, Ark., native also tied for the team lead with five quarterback hurries and ranked fourth on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss last season. He enters the 2011 season tied for 10th on Arkansas’ all-time career sacks list with 13.5 and also leads the 2011 Razorbacks with 19 career quarterback hurries. Bequette was named second-team All-SEC at the conclusion of the 2010 season and has been selected as a preseason first-team All-SEC player this season. In addition, he is one of 42 players on the 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.
Franklin led the team and ranked 10th in the SEC with a career-high 100 tackles in 2010, becoming just the second Razorback since 1960 to lead the team in tackles three straight seasons. He also led the team and tied for seventh in the SEC with a career-high 13.0 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with five quarterback hurries. The Marion, Ark., native ranked second on the team and eighth in the conference with 6.5 sacks, another career high, while adding two pass breakups and one forced fumble. He made a career-high 20 tackles at No. 22 Mississippi State to post the highest total in the SEC and the fifth-highest total in the NCAA last season.
Players may be added or deleted from the Bronko Nagurski Watch List during the season. For the 11th straight season, the FWAA will choose a National Defensive Player of the Week. If that player is not on the watch list, he automatically will be added. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 17.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner is chosen from five finalists who are part of the FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects the 25-man team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in America.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be on Dec. 12 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Besides the 2011 winner being announced, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award presented by Florida East Coast Railway. Florida’s Jack Youngblood, an end from the FWAA’s 1970 All-American team, will be honored.