Nagurski and Outland watch lists include three BYU players

PROVO, Utah — Three seniors on the BYU football team were named to preseason watch lists unveiled Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America.

Defensive back Craig Bills and linebacker Alani Fua were named to the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, while offensive lineman Michael Yeck was selected to the 2014 Outland Trophy Watch List.

Bills is one of 24 defensive backs and Fua one of 24 linebackers on the 81-man watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s best defensive player by the FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club.

A 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety from Provo, Utah, Bills is the Cougars’ top returning tackler with 78 takedowns in 2013 while also leading the team with two interceptions last year. Fua, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound outside linebacker from San Fernando Valley, California, also totaled two interceptions in 2013 along with 63 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks. 

Yeck, a 6-foot-8, 292-pound offensive tackle from Keller, Texas, started all 13 games for BYU in 2013 to help the Cougars’ new up-tempo offense rank No. 14 nationally in total offense and No. 10 in rushing yards. Yeck is one of 22 offensive tackles included on the list.

The Pac-12 Conference led all leagues with 17 players on the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, with Washington, Stanford, USC and Oregon supplying the majority from that conference. Eight of the 10 NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision conferences and independents Notre Dame and BYU are represented on the watch list. For a complete list of Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List honorees, read the official FWAA release.

The Southeastern Conference dominates the watch list for the 2014 Outland Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman. The SEC placed 19 players on the 64-man watch list released by the FWAA. The Pac-12 had 11 selections while the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC had nine each. BYU and Notre Dame were represented on the list among independent programs. For a complete list of Outland Trophy Watch List honorees, read the official FWAA release.

Players may be added or removed from the watch lists during the course of the season. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects a 26-man All-America First Team and eventually the award finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner.

The winner of the 69th Outland Trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the 20th century, will be chosen from three finalists who are part of the FWAA All-America Team. The winner will be announced on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 11 from Disney's Boardwalk in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20 with the winner chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2014 FWAA All-America Team. The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 8 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The FWAA has named 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.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.comor 214-870-6516.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club was founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina, region. The club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.