Plays by Tyler Matakevich, video by Scott (OVO) Hartkorn.
Too many times national college football awards are the result of vague criteria like “eye test” and pro potential. Tyler Matakevich has separated himself from two groups, the latest of which was the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation’s best defensive player. He is now in the three finalists there, and he is the in the Final Five for another. What has set that award, the Bronko Nagurski Award, given by the Charlotte Touchdown Club, apart, and given it additional credibility, is that assigns particular weight to hard numbers like tackles, sacks, tackles for losses and interceptions. It is now down to these five.
- Clemson DE Shaq Lawson
The 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior has 44 tackles in 11 games, 18 for losses with 7.5 sacks and no fumble recoveries and no interceptions. He is the best player on one of the best defenses in the nation, but doesn’t produce in the all-important turnover area.
- Carl Nassib, Penn State (DE)
The walk-on from Malvern Prep in the suburbs of Philadelphia has had a superb season for the Nittany Lions. In 10 games, Nassib has 46 tackles, 19.5 for losses, including 15.5 sacks. He also has one interception and returned it for 10 yards and forced six fumbles. He played only the first three snaps on Saturday against Michigan before being removed with an undisclosed injury.
- Reggie Ragland, Alabama (LB)
In 11 games, the 6-2, 252-pound Ragland has 85 tackles, 6.5 for losses with 2.5 sacks, no interceptions and two forced fumbles. He almost has no impact, though, on the opponent’s passing game as he has no interceptions this season.
- Jeremy Cash, Duke (SS)
The 6-2, 210-pound is projected as a strong safety on the next level, but has played both strong and free safety for the Blue Devils. This year, in 11 games, he has 85 tackles, 18 for losses with 2.5 sacks. After recording two interceptions a year ago, he has none this season.
- Tyler Matakevich, Temple (LB)
No one seems to be nearly as qualified for the Nagurski hardware as does the 6-1, 232-pound Matakevich, who is only the sixth player in FBS history to record fourth-straight 100-tackle seasons. He is also the only player in college football this season to lead his team in tackles in every game. He has 107 tackles, 13 for losses, four sacks and five interceptions.
Tomorrow: On to UConn