Nelson Named Finalist For Nagurski Trophy

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior defensive back Reggie Nelson (Melbourne,
Fla.) of the Gator football team was among the five finalists announced
Thursday for the 2006 Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by The Charlotte
Touchdown Club. Created in 1993, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded
each year to the nation’s most outstanding Division I defensive
football player.

Nelson joins defensive lineman Gaines Adams (Clemson), defensive back Leon Hall (Michigan), linebacker James Laurinaitis (Ohio State) and linebacker Patrick Willis (Ole Miss) as finalists for the honor. Nelson is the second Gator to become a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, as defensive end Alex Brown accomplished the feat in 2001.

“Reggie Nelson is the best defensive football player I’ve seen in 20-plus years of coaching football on the college level,” said Florida head coach Urban Meyer. “He still does things on the field that continue to amaze me. The best part is that his attitude is even better than his ability. He does everything the coaches ask of him, and he’s the consummate team player.”

Selected as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Defensive Player of the Half-Year, Nelson has started all 10 games on defense for the third-ranked Gators (9-1/7-1 SEC), who will be making their first appearance in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game since 2000. He has recorded 40 tackles, 26 solo and 14 assisted, and recovered one fumble. Nelson is currently tied for fifth in the SEC with four interceptions on the campaign and his two picks against top-25 opponents this season are tied for fifth in the nation. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 2 after a tremendous effort against Alabama in which he made five tackles, returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown, recovered a fumble at the end of a UF interception and broke up a pass during the 28-13 victory. Nelson has blocked punts this season in wins over Vanderbilt and LSU and his 7.8 yards per punt return rate sixth in the league.

Each finalist will be honored at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet on Dec. 4 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. The keynote address will be given by two-time Bronko Nagurski winner, and current Northwestern University Head Football Coach, Pat Fitzgerald. Former Carolina Panther Steve Beuerlein is slated as Master of Ceremonies.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is given in honor of the late Bronko Nagurski. Widely regarded as one of the greatest college football players of all time, Nagurski was named the 1929 All-America Defensive Tackle and led the Chicago Bears to three NFL Championships.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C. region. The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.