In football, a single elite defender can bring an entire unit's play to the next level. But what happens when a team is fortunate enough to feature two elite defenders?
According to the Football Writers Association of America, ASU football will have a chance to figure out the precise impact two elite defenders can make next season after the news that both Will Sutton and Carl Bradford made the Nagurski watch list Thursday.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy has been given out to college football's top defensive player each season since 1993. Arizona DT Rob Waldrop was the first recipient and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o was the player to most recently take home the award.
Along with Sutton and Bradford, UCLA LB Anthony Barr, USC DE Morgan Breslin, Oregon State DE Scott Crichton, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Stanford DE Ben Gardner, UCLA LB Eric Kendricks, Oregon DB Terrance Mitchell, Stanford LB Trent Murphy, USC LB Hayes Pullard, Stanford S Ed Reynolds, Stanford LB Shayne Skov and USC DE Leonard Williams also made the 81-player watch list from the Pac-12 conference. The Pac-12 finished with the second most players on the list (14), two behind the SEC's 16 players.
While this watch list is undoubtedly stacked with some big names, the good news is that Sutton and Bradford's positions give them a good chance to earn the hardware. Since the Nagurski award's inception, there has been only four instances of a non-linebacker or non-defensive lineman winning the trophy.
In related watch list news, Sutton was also officially placed on the radar for the Outland trophy Thursday, the award annually given to college football's best interior lineman.
Sutton and Bradford also made the Maxwell Award watch list last week. Other Sun Devils to make watch lists this offseason include Taylor Kelly (Maxwell), Marion Grice (Maxwell), Kody Koebensky (Rimington Award), Alden Darby (Lott IMPACT Award) and D.J. Foster (Hornung Award).