The Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. A total of 84 players made the watch list. The SEC led the nation with 19 watch listed players. The five finalists will be announced on Nov. 15 while the winner will be announced on Dec. 3. The quartet of LSU players were also named to the Bednarik Award's watch list.
Mathieu was a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and won the Chuck Bednarik Award last season for being the best defensive player in the country. LSU has won back-to-back Bednarik Awards. The junior cornerback will be going after the NCAA career record for forced fumbles. With 11, he is only three forced fumbles away from the mark.
Mingo and Montgomery play at the defensive end position for the Tigers and get into the backfield often. With 15 tackles for loss, Mingo ranked third in the SEC last season. Montgomery led LSU with nine sacks in 2011 and also had 13.5 tackles for loss. Between them, the pair has sacked opposition quarterbacks 21.5 times during their career. Montgomery was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award for the top defensive end in the nation in 2011.
Reid was tied with Mathieu for the team lead in 2011 with 76 tackles. He only had two interceptions, but one of them saved the day against Alabama during the regular season. For his efforts in that 9-6 overtime victory (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception), Reid was recognized by the FWAA as the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week. The junior safety has made 108 tackles (3.5 for loss) and 4 interceptions during his LSU career. He made a career-high 11 tackles (nine solo) against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game last season.
LSU previously had cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne named finalists for the Nagurski Trophy in 2010 and 2011. LSU defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey took home the Nagurski Trophy in 2007.
As an LSU fan, I'm looking forward to enjoying the play of these four players during the 2012 season. I think there's a good chance that one of them can be a finalist for the trophy.
More from Patrick Johnston:LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Eric Reid on Bednarik Watch List
Stats from LSU Sports.net