Brett Pyne | Posted: 27 Jul 2021 | Updated: 11 Aug 2021

Wilgar selected to Bronko Nagurski Watch List

main image
Payton Wilgar named to 2021 Bronko Nagurski Watch List

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America released its 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List on Tuesday, including BYU linebacker Payton Wilgar among the nominees for the nation's top defensive player in 2021.  

The FWAA selected 90 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes seven returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Wilgar, a 6-3, 245-pound Covid-year sophomore in 2021, is a key, versatile defender against the run and pass for BYU. In 2020, he helped the Cougars finish ranked No. 11 in the nation with an 11-1 record, making 57 tackles with five tackles for loss while adding a team-best five QB hurries with four pass breakups and forced a fumble. Named to the 2020 Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team, Wilgar's efforts helped the BYU defense rank No. 4  in scoring defense (15.3), No. 10 in total defense (317.4), No. 19 in rushing defense (119.9) and No. 22 in passing defense (197.5) in 2020.

The St. George, Utah, native out of Dixie High School made 54 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions in 2019 to earn Pro Football Focus All-Freshman Team honors. He led BYU in interceptions and tied for No. 2 nationally among linebackers with three picks in 2019. Wilgar was named Defensive Player of the Game in BYU’s win over No. 24 USC in 2019 and also had a season-high 10 tackles against No. 21 Washington.

Wilgar was also named a candidate on Monday for the 2021 Butkus Award, which recognizes the nation's best linebacker. 

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from five finalists and honored at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree on Dec. 6 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from all 10 FBS conferences plus five from the independent schools. The SEC led the conference list with 20 with the Big Ten (13) and Big 12 (12) just behind, making up half of the list. The Pac-12 (9) was fourth, followed by the ACC (8), Conference USA, Independents, Mountain West and Sun Belt (5 each) and the American Athletic and Mid-American had four apiece. The list includes 29 linebackers, 22 backs, 22 ends and 17 tackles.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw "Bronko" Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Select the following link for more information and the complete 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List.

About the FWAA
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. 

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised and donated nearly $3 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is

Recent Stories

Camp Helmet 2023
2023 Fall Camp: Practice 5—BYU Football History and Notables

BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning. 

Kicking 2023 Fall
2023 Fall Camp: Practice 4—Kelly Poppinga and Specialists Preview

BYU football practiced Friday for its fourth session of fall camp as the Cougars continue their first week.