Firstie cornerback Elijah Riley was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List on Tuesday. The award is given annually to the top defensive player of the year in college football. The Football Writers Association of America selected 92 defensive standouts from 65 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes four returning players from last season's FWAA All-America team.
Riley is one of 28 defensive backs on the list and is the lone representative on the watch list from the service academies. Riley became a key leader in Army's secondary a year ago. He finished third on the team with 55 tackles to go along with 39 solo grabs. The Port Jefferson, N.Y., native chipped in 7.5 tackles for a loss of 27 yards and 10 pass breakups. He was named to the 2018 All-Independent First Team and was chosen as a team captain by his teammates following spring practice. Riley has accumulated 122 total tackles, including 87 unassisted ones.
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 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. 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. Read more.