Michigan defensive linemen Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst once again find themselves in the spotlight of expectations.
Gary and Hurst were named Thursday to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s most oustanding defensive player. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the duo also were named this week to the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, also given to college football’s top defensive player.
This is the third watch list appearance for Hurst, who also on Thursday, landed on the preseason list for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman.
In all, 103 players were named to the Bronko Nagurski watch list, but Gary and Hurst were the only two representing schools from the state of Michigan.
Gary, a defensive end, and Hurst, a defensive tackle, will try to become the first Michigan player to win the Nagurski since Charles Woodson in 1997. Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen won the award last season.
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound rising senior Hurst had 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season, while the 6-5, 287-pound rising sophomore Gary had five tackles for loss and a sack among 27 tackles last season as a freshman on a deep Michigan defensive line. He also had seven quarterback hurries.
Finalists for the Nagurski Trophy will be announced Nov. 16. The winner will be announced Dec. 4.