Three USC players were named to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday morning. The award is annually given to the best defensive player in college football.
Sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey, senior safety T.J. McDonald and junior cornerback Nickell Robey were the Trojans included on the list, which consists of 84 players – including 10 from the Pac-12.
McDonald was a first-team all-conference selection last season, finishing with 67 tackles and three interceptions. He decided to return to USC for his senior season despite being projected as a first or second round pick by many analysts.
Robey joined McDonald on the Pac-12 first team in 2012. He has been a starter since his freshman season in 2010 and had two-interceptions on the year, including one against former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck that was returned for a touchdown. The Florida product also returned punts for the Trojans.
The youngest Trojan on the list is Bailey, who was named the conference’s freshman defensive player of the year after his first season of action. He had 81 tackles and two interceptions on way to being named second team All-Pac-12.
The winner of the award will be named on Dec. 3 at a banquet in North Carolina.