Athens. GA - Georgia junior Justin Houston has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.
Houston is one of only five finalists who have been picked from the initial Watch List of 74 players. The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be on Dec. 6 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., where the winner will be announced. The Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club determine the winner and present the award.
The four other finalists include two other players from the Southeastern Conference (LSU junior CB Patrick Peterson, Auburn junior DT Nick Fairley) and a pair from the ACC (Clemson junior DE Da’Quan Bowers, Boston College sophomore LB Luke Kuechly).
Houston, a 6-3, 258-pound native of Statesboro, remains the SEC leader in sacks by 2.5 with 10 and is second in the league with 17.5 tackles for loss. He is third on Georgia’s defense with 50 tackles this season.
Playing his first season at outside linebacker after lining up as defensive end his first three years, Houston has the most sacks and tackles for loss of any active SEC player and has recorded at least one tackle for loss in all 11 games this year. He had a combined total of 10.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Houston was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after exploding for five tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hurries while also recovering a fumble and breaking up a pass at Kentucky earlier this year.
Thanks in part of Houston’s presence, the Bulldogs have forced 20 turnovers and converted them into 80 points. Georgia’s turnover margin (+8) leads the SEC and is tied for 18th in the nation.
Former Bulldog All-American Champ Bailey is the only Georgia player to win the Nagurski Trophy after receiving the honor in 1998.
Houston has already been named one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award and one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award this season. Both of these awards are scheduled to announce their finalists early next week.
After an off-week on Nov. 20, the Bulldogs (5-6, 3-5 SEC) host Georgia Tech (5-5, 3-4 ACC) on Nov. 27 at 7:45 p.m.