IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa has been named to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List.
Presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Former Hawkeye linebackers Josey Jewell (2017) and Pat Angerer (2009) were finalists for the award.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, Epenesa (6-foot-6, 280-pounds) led the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally in sacks (10.5), ranked second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in forced fumbles (4), and ranked fourth in the conference in tackles for loss (16.5). The Glen Carbon, Illinois, native also recorded 37 tackles, four pass break-ups, eight pressures, and a blocked punt.
Epenesa was one of five finalists for the 2018 Polynesian Player of the Year award and a two-time Co-Big Ten Defensive Player of Week for his play in wins against Illinois and Iowa State a year ago.
Last week, Epenesa was named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors List, while also garnering preseason first-team All-America recognition by Athlon Sports and College Football News earlier this summer.
The award is named after Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski and his legendary talents. He was a consensus All-American defensive tackle in 1929 and also an All-American fullback in 1929, becoming the only player ever picked at two positions in the same season.
The FWAA will announce a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week throughout the season, and in conjunction with the Charlotte Touchdown Club, announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Nov. 20. The winner will be announced Dec. 9 at the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet inside the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Hawkeyes open the 2019 season Aug. 31, hosting Miami, Ohio. For ticket information for all seven home games, visit hawkeyesports.com/footballgameday.