IU Athletics Release
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana senior linebacker Tegray Scales and fifth-year senior cornerback Rashard Fant secured spots on the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, as announced by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club today. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football.
Previously selected to the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch Lists, Scales earned second team All-America honors from SI.com in 2016 and became the first Hoosiers linebacker recognized on an All-America team since Van Waiters (3rd team) in 1987.
The 2016 Foster Farms Defensive Player of the Game led the nation with 93 solo stops and 23.5 tackles for loss, and he finished first in the Big Ten with 126 tackles (10th nationally). Scales owns the second spot on the program's single-season TFLs list, shares ninth in total tackles and is ninth with 33.5 career stops for loss.
His nine double-figure tackle games in 2016 led the league and ranked third nationally. Scales added seven sacks, a pick-6 and one forced fumble.
The Cincinnati native put together a streak of six straight, 10-tackle games during the regular season. It was the longest streak nationally, the longest streak in the Big Ten since 2012 and the longest streak at IU since at least 1990.
Entering the 2017 season, Fant is the NCAA active career leader and Indiana's all-time leader with 48 passes defended and 44 pass breakups in 38 games. A second team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, the Atlanta native topped the Big Ten in pass breakups (17, T-2nd nationally) and passes defended (20, 3rd nationally).
He shared for the team lead with three interceptions (68 yards), including a 34-yard pick-6 at Florida International, and made 33 tackles, 29 solo, and one tackle for loss. Fant tallied four games with multiple PBUs.
The Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with 20 players on the watch list, followed by the Big Ten (16), SEC (14), Pac-12 (13), Big 12 (11), American Athletic (10), Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Independents (3), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2). The list includes 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles, all vying for the award representing college football's best defensive player.
Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous seasons, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday throughout the season. If not already on the watch list, each week's honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Thurs., Nov. 16.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association's full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Monday, Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner's announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway.
The FWAA has chosen 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 both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football's most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 23 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 12-day period this month. Seventeen of the association's 23 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award's preseason candidates.