(IU RELEASE)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana senior linebacker Micah McFadden and junior cornerback Tiawan Mullen have been selected to Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, the Football Writers Association of America announced on Tuesday morning. This marks the third watch list appearance for both McFadden (Bednarik, Butkus) and Mullen (Bednarik, Thorpe).

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists and honored at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree on Dec. 6 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

All three returning FWAA first-team All-Americans leading off the list are in the secondary – Mullen, cornerback Ahmad Gardner of Cincinnati, and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton.

Clemson has four players on the team and Georgia, Iowa State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are next as teams with three players each. Indiana, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Cincinnati, LSU, Missouri, Notre Dame, San Diego State, TCU, Troy, USC, and Washington have two apiece.

McFadden collected second-team All-America honors from Phil Steele and third-team accolades from the Associated Press in 2020. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree (coaches, media), McFadden was named IU’s Anthony Thompson Most Valuable Player along with quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

He led the team with 58 tackles, 44 solos, six sacks (31 yards), and 10.5 for loss (39 yards), while he shared second with three quarterback hurries, and finished fourth with two interceptions. McFadden topped the Big Ten in sacks, the first Hoosier to do so since Greg Middleton (2007), tied for second in solo stops, shared third in TFLs, and tied for eighth in INTs.

After the Hoosiers win at No. 16 Wisconsin, he carded Walter Camp National Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week laurels. A team captain, McFadden recorded a game-high nine tackles with a pair of sacks in the program’s first victory in Madison since 2001.

Mullen became the first cornerback in program history to earn first-team All-America honors (FWAA, Phil Steele) one year ago. He was just the second cornerback (Tim Wilbur, 1980 second-teamer) in school history to achieve All-America status and was the first Hoosier since offensive lineman Dan Feeney (2015, 2016) to claim first-team recognition.

Upon the conclusion of the regular season, Mullen became the program’s first cornerback to card first-team All-Big Ten honors since Tracy Porter (2007). He is the team’s active leader with eight career takeaways (3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries).

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native was named IU’s 2020 Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year after he made 38 tackles, 27 solo, with 3.5 sacks (32 yards), 4.5 for loss (33 yards), three interceptions, one forced fumble, four pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry in eight games.

Mullen led all Big Ten defensive backs in sacks (T-12th overall) and TFLs, and shared sixth overall in INTs. He finished tied for first on the team in forced fumbles, second in sacks, third in solos stops, tackles for loss and picks, tied for third in PBUs, and fourth in total stops.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from all 10 FBS conferences plus five from the independent schools. The SEC led the conference list with 20 with the Big Ten (13) and Big 12 (12) just behind, making up half of the list. The Pac-12 (9) was fourth, followed by the ACC (8), Conference USA, Independents, Mountain West and Sun Belt (5 each) and the American Athletic and Mid-American had four apiece. The list includes 29 linebackers, 22 backs, 22 ends and 17 tackles.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.