Xavier Watts is bringing the Bronko Nagurski Award for best defensive player back home to South Bend.

The safety had a great season for Notre Dame. He accounted for 47 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and was the nation’s leader with 7 interceptions.

Watts is the 1st player to win the award not named Will Anderson Jr. since 2021. The last Notre Dame player to win the Nagurski was Manti Te’o in 2012.

Watts wasn’t on defense from the jump at Notre Dame.

He was originally a receiver as a part of the 2020 class. He eventually moved to linebacker during his 2nd season, then safety in 2022 and the rest was history.

Marcus Freeman finished his 2nd season as full-time head coach with a 9-3 record. The Fighting Irish head to the Sun Bowl to finish off the 2023 season against Oregon State.

Watts was the backbone of the Fighting Irish defense and his numbers speak for themselves.