There were not too many fans even in Columbus that would have predicted James Laurinaitis would be the top defensive player in the game when he stepped in for Bobby Carpenter, who injured himself in the early stages of “The Game” against Michigan in Ann Arbor last year.
At 6-foot-3, 245-pounds, Laurinaitis seems to just have a knack for the big play. This season he racked up 100 tackles, five sacks, eight tackles for a loss and five interceptions helping to hold the Buckeyes opponents to less that 11 points per game.
Created in 1993 by the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football and is presented by the Charlotte Touchdown Club. The award was established to compliment the Heisman Trophy Award which never been presented to a defensive player.
Laurinaitis was selected over Clemson's Gaines Adams, Michigan's Leon Hall, Florida's Reggie Nelson and Mississippi's Patrick Willis.
Laurinaitis is also a finalist for the Butkus Award, presented to the nations best linebacker.
Notables: Former Northwestern LB and current Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald is the only player to have won the award twice in his career. Laurinaitis is the first sophomore to win the award in its short history .