The Bronko Nagurski Award is presented annually to the best defensive player in the nation, decided on by members of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The Ted Hendricks Award is presented annually to the best defensive end in the nation. This year, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers of the Clemson Tigers earned both of these prestigious designations.
At the beginning of the 2010 season, there were questions about Bowers’ ability to rush the passer. His worth as a run-stopper was crystal clear, but there wasn’t enough production as a pass-rusher in 2009 for a player of his ability and potential. Well, he did more than enough to quiet any doubters. During 2010, his junior year, he had 16 sacks and a forced fumble to go along with his 61 total tackles. He displayed outstanding athleticism by beating opposing tackles in pass-rush on a consistent basis, while also showing dominant strength while playing the run. He lived in the opponent’s backfield and made life difficult for opposing ACC offensive coordinators. Against the Florida State Seminoles, he managed to bring in his first career interception. With so much potential and a well-rounded style of play, Bowers will be a lock for the first-round if he decides to enter the 2011 NFL Draft.
Bowers’ best game of the season came in Clemson’s 31-7 win over the Maryland Terrapins. In one of the Tigers’ most dominant wins of the season, Bowers managed to make nine tackles, including three sacks.