Two NC State defenders are on the radar for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given annually to the top defensive player in the country.

Safety Tanner Ingle and linebacker Drake Thomas were 2 of 85 names from across the country to land on the award’s preseason watch list.

Ingle earned first-team All-ACC honors last season after recording 82 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 4 pass deflections. He’s returning to Raleigh for his 5th season of college football.

Thomas was also a first-team All-ACC pick last season. He led the team with 99 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. He also picked off 3 passes. Thomas has a case to be preseason defensive player of the year in the ACC.

This duo — as well as defensive end Cory Durden — is a big reason why NC State is one of the favorites to win the ACC this season. The Wolfpack are looking for their first 10+ win campaign in more than 20 years.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy has been awarded since 1993. NC State has one previous winner — Bradley Chubb in 2017.

NC State opens the 2022 season with East Carolina on Sept. 3.