Of all the watch lists released thus far this month, this one’s the biggest — literally.
Via the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Tuesday released its preseason list of players to watch, with a whopping 97 individuals making the award’s initial cut. All 10 FBS conferences are represented, as are 65 individual schools.
One first-team FWAA All-American (LSU safety Grant Delpit) made the initial watch list for the award given annually to the best defensive player in college football, while a trio of second-teamers from a year ago (Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo) made the cut as well.
Conference-wise, the SEC has the most with 18, followed the other four Power Five leagues in the Big Ten (15), ACC (12), Pac-12 (12) and Big 12 (11). The AAC led all Group of Five conferences with six, followed by Conference USA (four), Mountain West (four), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (two). Football independents accounted for five of the watch listers.
With four, Alabama led all individual schools. Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame and Penn State placed three each, with another 16 schools placing two apiece on the list.
As for the positional breakdown, there are 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.