Will Anderson Jr. wins the 2021 Nagurski Trophy

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. was awarded the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy. 

The Football Writers Association of America and Charlotte Touchdown Club announced the honor at the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday night.

The Nagurski Trophy is an annual award that recognizes the best defensive player in college football as determined by the FWAA since 1993.  It is named after Bronko Nagurski, who played football for the University of Minnesota and the Chicago Bears.

“First off, I would just like to start off by thanking God for this award,” Anderson said. “Without Him, none of this would be possible … Next, I want to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me and pushing me to my limits every day and helping me be the best person I can. And to the University of Alabama, I want to say thank you guys for being the best fans ever and loving and supporting me and my family and Roll Tide. Thank you.”

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux were the other two finalists. The sophomore linebacker is Alabama’s second winner of the Nagurski Trophy after Jonathan Allen took home the trophy in 2016.

Anderson Jr. emerged as a dominant pass-rusher in his second season with the Crimson Tide. He is the national leader in tackles for loss with 32.5. This total ranks second all-time in Crimson Tide single-season records

Anderson Jr. also leads the country in sacks with 15.5. This ranked third in program history for a single season, behind Derrick Thomas who currently occupies the top two spots. Anderson Jr. accumulated 92 total tackles, the second most on the Alabama defense this season. 

Anderson has a team-high nine quarterback hurries and two pass breakups. 

He has a chance to rack up another national defensive player award this week. The Chuck Bednarik Award winner will be announced on Thursday. Anderson Jr. is a finalist with Davis, Thibodeaux and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton.