Both Robert Sands and J.T. Thomas are among the 74 players nominated for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Last year, Sands recorded 65 tackles from his free safety position. His sideline-to-sideline pass coverage also resulted in five interceptions and eight pass breakups. Thomas, expected to be the emotion leader of the 2010 West Virginia defense, also had 65 tackles from his linebacker position. He had two interceptions and five pass breakups to go along with one fumble recovery. Thomas was also strong across the line of scrimmage, totaling 3 1/2 sacks and ten tackles behind the line for a total of 70 yards in losses.
The duo is expected to be the leaders of a strongly stocked defense that could contend to be one of the best in the Big East conference, if not the country.
Players may be added or deleted to the Bronko Nagurski Watch List during the season. Each week during the 2010 season, the FWAA will choose a Defensive Player of the Week. If that player is not on the Watch List, he automatically will be added. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on November 18.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be on Dec. 6 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Besides the 2010 winner being announced, the banquet will also celebrate the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, presented by CSX Intermodal.