Xavier Watts named finalist for national defensive player of the year award
Xavier Watts has been named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
That news was made official on Wednesday afternoon. Watts is one of five finalists for the honor. He’s joined by Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean, Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton, Georgia safety Malaki Starks and NC State linebacker Payton Wilson.
The Nagurski Trophy is given annually to the best defensive player in all of college football.
The best defensive player in college football
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) November 15, 2023
Watts is in the midst of a career year for the Fighting Irish. So far this season, he has accounted for 42 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 7 interceptions. He’s also added 4 pass deflections and a forced fumble.
His best game of the season came in Notre Dame’s blowout victory over USC earlier this season. Watts picked off reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams twice in that contest. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the win.
Notre Dame has only produced one Nagurski Trophy winner, which has been issued since the 1993 season. Linebacker Manti Te’o won the award in 2012.
Notre Dame will face Wake Forest on Saturday.