Herd duo named to Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023


Marshall Athletics

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –Marshall senior defensive end Owen Porter and senior cornerback Micah Abraham were named to the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, as released by the Football Writers Association of America on Tuesday.

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The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive football player in the country, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America All-America Committee.

Porter and Abraham each return for 2023 after serving as a big part of the nucleus of a defense that finished in the top-20 in FBS last season. That defense was a big part of Marshall finishing the season with five straight wins.

“The recognition for their efforts – consistency, diligence, and approach – is always good, and those recognitions are great, but again, they are just lists,” Marshall football coach Charles Huff said. “What this should do is motivate them in the fact that what they are doing and what they continue to do is being recognized. From a program standpoint, it shows that what we are doing in development and what we’re doing in progressing these guys is being recognized nationally.”

Both players were recognized as 2023 Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team selections, as voted on by the league’s coaches.

Porter, who represented Marshall at Sun Belt Media Days in New Orleans last week, was the energy leader and a consistent force off the edge for Marshall’s 2022 defense.

The Huntington, W.Va., native finished with 60 tackles and team-highs in tackles for loss (15), sacks (9.5), quarterback hurries (9) and forced fumbles (2).

Abraham was named as an All-Sun Belt First Team selection in 2022 after a year in which he finished tied for 3rd in FBS in interceptions with six. Abraham finished with 36 tackles and 10 pass breakups on the season as well.

The 10 pass breakups and six interceptions marked the second consecutive season he had at least 15 passes defended. He was also selected as a Preseason All-American Fourth Team cornerback by Phil Steele Publications.

While their statistics loomed large in success, Huff said that their impact was felt across the board because of their leadership and ability to raise the bar for those around them.

“Whenever you are able to play consistently at a high level, it gives everyone the confidence to go out and do it again,” Huff said. “They elevate the level of consistency and execution around them because people don’t want to be the one who let Owen or Micah down. The level of commitment and preparation that those guys have permeates the team, so now that becomes the standard everyone is trying to live up to.”

Porter and Abraham represent two of 96 defensive standouts who were announced to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. They are also two of only seven players selected from the Sun Belt Conference. Marshall was one of only 14 teams in FBS to have multiple selections on the list.

In all, there are 70 schools – more than half of the FBS membership – represented on this year’s team.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list throughout the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time.

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. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski, a legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. 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.