Georgia junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith has been named a finalist for the prestigious Bronko Nagurski Award.
The annual honor is given to the best defensive player in the country by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. This season, Smith has totaled a team-best 82 tackles and has also recorded 2.5 sacks.
Joining Smith as finalists are North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver.
Only one Georgia player has won the Nagurski Award in program history. Former UGA defensive back Champ Bailey took home the honor after a stellar 1998 season. Former Georgia defensive end David Pollack was a finalist for the Nagurski Award in 2002 and 2004, and outside linebacker Justin Houston was also a finalist in 2010.
The Nagurski Award will be presented on Monday, Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Head coach Kirby Smart will be the event’s keynote speaker.
Smith is also a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, which also honors the nation’s most outstanding defensive player, and the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
Smith is considered Georgia’s top defensive player and has helped lead the Bulldogs to some impressive stats through 10 games. Georgia ranks fifth in scoring defense at 14.5 points per game, fifth in run defense at 103.8 rushing yards, fifth in total defense at 277.5 yards and 11th in passing defense at 173.7 yards through the air.
Smith’s season has garnered a lot of attention thanks to his season, which includes first-round placement in a lot of NFL mock drafts across the industry. Smith will have a decision to either leave for the NFL draft or return for his senior year following the conclusion of the 2017 season.