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Da’Quan Bowers Wins Nagurski Award
Photo – DE Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has been named the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Award. The honor is presented each year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Touchdown Club of Charlotte to the top defensive player in the nation.
Bowers is the first Clemson player to win a national award of this magnitude since 1982 when Terry Kinard was named the National Defensive Player of the Year.
The other finalists for the Nagurski Award were DT Nick Fairley of Auburn, LB Justin Houston of Georgia, LB Luke Kuechly of Boston College and CB Patrick Peterson of LSU.
Frank Coyle voted for Auburn’s DT Nick Fairley for the Nagurski Award.
"This is a great honor for Da'Quan," said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney, who was the keynote speaker for the banquet. "He has had a terrific year, a dominant year. He has come to play every single game this year and is very deserving of this award."
Bowers led the nation in sacks with 15.5 and was second in tackles for loss with 25. His sack total is second in Clemson history for one season, best among defensive linemen and is the most by an ACC player since 1999 when Keith Adams had a Clemson record 16 sacks.
Bowers's tackle for loss total is the most by a Clemson defensive lineman since 1991 when Rob Bodine had 27. Bowers had a streak of nine straight games with a sack during this season, the longest streak in Clemson history. Last week, Bowers was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The junior is also finalist for the Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award. Those announcements will come later this week.
Playing with a heavy heart following the deaths this year of his father, Dennis, and close friend Gaines Adams of the Chicago Bears, Bowers burst onto the scene this fall after two average seasons. The 6’4” 275 lbs. junior had shed 15 pounds and was performing well in preseason camp in August when his father collapsed while performing in his gospel band. Bowers was later visiting him in the hospital when his father suffered a seizure and died. Bowers spent two weeks away before rejoining the team.
Bowers wore Adams' old #93 this and had a sack in nine straight games, breaking Adams' record by a game. He's surpassed Adams' record for sacks by a defensive lineman and needs one sack when Clemson (6-6) meets South Florida (7-5) in the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 31 to break Keith Adams' overall school sacks record.
Bowers first met Adams when he attended a Clemson camp in the eighth grade. Adams would later set numerous Clemson records and was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy in 2006 before being a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following spring. Adams, who was later traded to Chicago, died in January of cardiac arrest. The autopsy report said he had an enlarged heart.
Bowers had tough competition for the Nagurski award named after the former Minnesota college star and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fairley has 10½ sacks and 21 tackles for a loss, Kuechly leads the country with 171 tackles, Houston has 10 sacks and 18½ tackles for a loss and Peterson has four interceptions.
Bowers' big season puts him among an elite group of past winners that includes Warren Sapp, Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Roy Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Brian Orakpo and Ndamukong Suh.
"It's incredible," Bowers said. "It's just an honor to be here in this situation."
Frank Coyle writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards