Both Barnett and Maggitt are also on the watch list for the Bednarik Award.
As a freshman, Barnett played all 13 games on the defensive line, starting 10, and led all true freshman in the SEC in tackles with 72. The Nashville native became the first true freshman to start a season opener on defensive line in Tennessee history and went on to set Volunteer freshman records with 20.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He set a UT freshman record for sacks in a game with three at No. 3 Ole Miss and tied his own mark with another three-sack night at South Carolina.
Barnett was named Second Team All-Southeastern Conference by both the Associated Press and the league’s coaches. He was also named a freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, ESPN, Scout and the Sporting News.
A senior from West Palm Beach, Florida, Maggitt led the Vols with a career-best 11.0 sacks in 2014, the third-best total in the SEC and tied for fourth-highest total for a Tennessee player in a season all-time. He has recorded a sack in his last five consecutive games, including 2.0 sacks in three of his last four games. Maggitt also recorded 14.0 tackles for loss, tying for seventh in the league in that category and ranking behind only Barnett on the Tennessee squad.
After missing the entire 2013 season because of injuries, Maggitt played in all 12 games and recorded 43 tackles as a redshirt junior.
Defensive back Eric Berry was Tennessee’s last finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, back in 2009.
Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. Once again, the FWAA will announce a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday from early September through mid November. If not already on the watch list, the honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 19.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2014 FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in college football during the FWAA’s 75th anniversary year.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Dec. 7 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. In addition to the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Ohio State’s Randy Gradishar, a member of the FWAA’s 1973 All-America team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.
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.