July 10, 2014 at 10:51 am

Three Wolverines, three Spartans on watch list for top defensive award

Blake Countess is a junior from Owings Mills, Maryland. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

Three players from Michigan and three from Michigan State are on the preseason watch list for one of college football’s most prestigious individual awards – the Bronco Nagurski Trophy.

It is presented at the end of each regular season to the nation’s top defensive player.

Linebacker Jake Ryan, cornerback Blake Countess and end Frank Clark are the candidates from Michigan, while safety Kurtis Drummond, cornerback Trae Waynes and end Shilique Calhoun represent the Spartans.

Ryan managed 30 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2013 despite appearing in only eight games (five starts) after recovering from offseason knee surgery. Countess led the Wolverines in interceptions with six; he also had four pass break-ups and 46 tackles. Clark led Michigan in tackles for loss (12) and fumble recoveries (two).

Drummond was second on the 2013 MSU team in tackles with 91 while tying for the team lead in interceptions with four. Waynes had five pass break-ups, three interceptions and 50 tackles. Calhoun was a disruptive force, with an MSU-best 7.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries.