July 12, 2012
Texas Longhorns senior defensive end Alex Okafor, junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, senior safety Kenny Vaccaro and junior cornerback Carrington Byndom have been named to the watch list for the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, honoring the nation’s most outstanding defensive player, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have announced.
Two Longhorns have won the Nagurski Trophy in the last eight years, including DE Brian Orakpo in 2008 and LB Derrick Johnson in 2004.
Okafor is a three-year letterman who has appeared in 39 games on the defensive line, including 21 starts. He was a 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-American and a unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches). Also in 2011, he was named first team All-Big 12 (AP, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and was on the 2011 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award watch list. Okafor transitioned back to full-time defensive end from defensive tackle in spring 2011 and has registered 110 tackles (49 solo), 9.5 sacks, 20 TFL, 36 pressures, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for his career. Last season he started all 13 games, posting 58 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups, 17 pressures, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is a two-time member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll (Spring 2010/Fall 2010).
Jeffcoat is a third-year defensive lineman who has appeared in 21 games with 15 starts. He was a 2011 second team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches, AP, Kansas City Star, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Jackson has 86 tackles (43 solo), 27 TFL, 10.5 sacks, four PBU, one fumble recovery and 16 pressures for his career. He tallied 71 tackles, 21 TFL, eight sacks, nine pressures and three pass breakups in 2011. He was named honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he posted 15 tackles (eight solo), six TFL and 2.5 sacks, one PBU, one fumble recovery and seven pressures. His father, Jim, was a standout defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys (1983-94) and Buffalo Bills (1995-97) and is the current defensive line coach at San Jose State.
Vaccaro is a fourth-year defensive back who has appeared in 38 games with 19 career starts. He was chosen to the All-Big 12 first team (Coaches), second team (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and honorable mention (AP) in 2011 and was honorable mention for Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches). Vaccaro has posted 157 tackles (102 solos), two interceptions, 12 TFL, two sacks, two forced fumbles and 16 PBU for his career and has also registered 14 tackles (10 solo) and two blocked kicks on special teams. He appeared in all 13 games at safety, starting 11, while registering 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and seven pressures in 2011.
Byndom is a third-year defensive back who has appeared in 25 games at defensive back and on special teams with 13 career starts. In 2011, he was named first-team All-Big 12 (AP, Kansas City Star, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News) and has posted 78 tackles (59 solo), two interceptions, 16 PBU, eight TFL, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pressure and one blocked punt in his career. He tied for the team lead with 15 pass breakups to go along with 58 tackles, eight TFL, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2011. Byndom posted 20 tackles (17 solo), one PBU, one forced fumble and one blocked punt while playing in all 12 games in 2010.
Okafor, Jeffcoat and Vaccaro have also been named to the 2012 Bednarik Award watch list honoring the college defensive player of the year. Byndom joins Okafor and Jeffcoat on the 2012 College Football Performance Awards Defensive Awards watch list.
Eighty-four players are on this year’s watch list. Players may be added or deleted from the Bronko Nagurski Watch List during the season. For the 12th consecutive season, the FWAA will choose a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week. If a recipient is not on the watch list, he will be added. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 15.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner is chosen from five finalists who are part of the FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects the 25-man team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in America.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet presented by ACN will be Dec. 3 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Besides the 2012 winner being announced, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award presented by Florida East Coast Railway. Nebraska's Larry Jacobson, an end from the FWAA's 1971 All-American team, will be honored. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.