A pair of defensive ends, Clemson’s Shaq Lawson and Penn State’s Carl Nassib, were named as finalists Wednesday for the Lombardi Award. A day later, the line duo is up for another national honor.
In conjunction with the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday the five finalists for the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy. In addition to Lawson and Nassib, the finalists consist of Duke’s Jeremy Cash, Temple’s Tyler Matakevich and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.
In addition to the twin ends, a safety (Cash) and two linebackers (Matakevich and Ragland) are represented.
Interestingly, Matakevich is a finalists for an award that honors the best defensive player in the country. However, he’s not even a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which honors the nation’s best linebacker. Ragland was a semifinalist, with five of the 10 hailing from the SEC and just one (Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell) from non-Power Five conferences.
The winner of the 2014 Nagurski Trophy was UCLA’s Eric Kendricks. The 2015 winner will be announced Dec. 7.
Below are the brief biographical sketches of the five finalists, courtesy of the FWAA:
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke (6-2, 210, Sr., Miami, Fla.): A second-team FWAA All-America selection last season, Cash has come back strong in 2015 and is tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles per game at 8.8. He also is the only defensive back in the Top 100 in FBS in tackles for loss per game and is second in the country behind Penn State end Carl Nassib with 17.5 (79 yards in losses). In addition, Cash has broken up three passes, recovered one fumble, registered eight quarterback hurries and forced three fumbles. His coach David Cutcliffe says: “I don’t know if there is a better defensive player from a production standpoint in the country.”
Shaq Lawson, E, Clemson (6-3, 270, Jr., Central, S.C.): The big-play tackler for the nation’s top-ranked team in the CFP poll, Lawson is one of the strongest players in college football and is a standout against the run. He has 16.5 tackles for loss, which is among the Top 10 in the country. He has also broken up a pass and made 12 quarterback hurries. In the victory over Notre Dame he had 3.5 tackles for loss when he was matched up against Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, a clear victory for Lawson.
Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple (6-1, 232, Sr., Stratford, Conn.): The current career leader in tackles in the FBS is on target to record more than 100 total tackles in each of his four seasons at Temple. He is the first first-team defensive All-American in school history and is the only player in the FBS to lead his team (8-2 overall) in tackles every game this season. He leads all FBS linebackers with five interceptions (47 return yards) and he has 11.5 tackles for 56 yards in losses, including four sacks for 25 yards in losses.
Carl Nassib, E, Penn State (6-7, 272, Sr., West Chester, Pa.): A former preferred walk-on at Penn State, Nassib has added weight and strength to become one of college football’s best defenders. His coach James Franklin describes him as “big, long, explosive, athletic.” Nassib leads the FBS in sacks (15.5), tackles for loss (19.5) and forced fumbles (6). He has recorded at least one sack in each game this season and has five multi-sack games in 2015. He is one forced fumble away from tying the school record.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (6-2, 252, Sr., Madison, Ala.): Very active off the field in community service, Ragland, a team captain, has a team-leading 82 tackles. He has 5.5 tackles for 20 yards in losses, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. He has led the team in tackles in six of the Crimson Tide’s 10 games. Alabama’s defense, after giving up 43 points in a loss to Ole Miss, has been stellar as opponents have averaged just 11.8 points a game in the last seven contests, all Alabama victories.