Linebacker Cameron Smith cornerback Iman Marshall and lineman Rasheem Green represent USC Football on the 2017 Bronco Nagurski Award watch list for the nation’s top defensive player.
USC Football players continue to haul in preseason watch list acclaim for a slew of national awards.
On Thursday, the Charlotte Touchdown Club announced the 2017 watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Award, including USC’s Cameron Smith, Iman Marshall and Rasheem Green. The Nagurski Award is presented to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player each year.
Smith is already on the watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Bednarik Award. As a preseason All-American candidate, the Trojan is considered one of the nation’s best inside linebackers for 2017 after leading USC in tackles as a sophomore.
Now fully recovered from the knee injury which ended his freshman campaign, Smith is expected to reach his peak as an all-around, savy and athletic defender.
Marshall is expected to follow in the footsteps of Adoree’ Jackson, whose departure has elevated Marshall into the No. 1 cornerback role at USC. With two seasons of starting experience under his belt, the physical defender stands as one of the top cornerbacks in the Pac-12 heading into the 2017 season.
This is Green’s first appearance on a watch list for 2017. The junior defensive end continued his steady upward trajectory last year, logging more sacks than any other Trojan and becoming a key figure in the trenches.
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Linebacker Porter Gustin made the cut for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and Bednarik Award watch lists as he enters his junior year, but missed out on recognition with the Nagurski. Leading USC in tackles for loss in 2016, Gustin’s size, power and burst have him on the cusp of stardom in college football as an edge rusher.
Last year, Jackson and Smith made the watch list, but neither continued on as a finalist for the award.
USC has never produced a Nagurski Award winner going back to the mid-90s when the trophy was first awarded. In all that time, the Trojans have placed a single finalist –Rey Maualuga was a runner-up to Texas’ Brian Orakpo in 2008.
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The 2017 Nagurski Award winner will be announced on December 4 in Charlotte.