TULSA, Okla. — University of Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins won the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which honors college football’s national defensive player of the year.
Collins is the first Tulsa player to win any of the current on-field performance awards and becomes the school’s first FWAA All-American since offensive lineman Jerry Ostroski in 1991.
The FWAA All-America Committee selected Collins as this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient after voting from the entire membership.
Collins has totaled 54 tackles, 11.5 TFLs for minus 49 yards, four sacks for minus 25 yards, four interceptions for 152 return yards, two TDs off INTs, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, as well as one safety, in eight games. Two of Collins’ interceptions were game-clinchers, including a pickoff against No. 19 SMU that ended any possible final scoring drive for the Mustangs and his pick-6 in overtime against Tulane that he took 96 yards for the game-winning score.
Collins was unanimously chosen as the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first player in league history to earn unanimous player-of-the-year honors, and also received unanimous first-team all-AAC accolades.
“I’m honored and blessed to receive the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. It’s awe-inspiring to be mentioned in the same breath as Bronko Nagurski and the many great players who won this award before me,” said Collins. “I’m so thankful for this honor and for all the people who have put me in this position – my family, coaches, teammates and fan base. I can’t thank the coaching staff and my teammates enough. Coach G (DC Joe Gillespie) and Coach Monty (Head Coach Philip Montgomery) have pushed me, and the absolute best teammates have helped make me better each day.”
“It’s a great honor to represent my family, the city of Tulsa and The University of Tulsa in receiving the Bronko Nagurski Trophy,” Collins added.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have a young man like Zaven Collins be recognized as the Bronko Nagurski winner,” said Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery. “Being mentioned with the likes of former award-winners such as Warren Sapp and Charles Woodson and carrying on the name of the original tough guy himself Bronko Nagurski is a tremendous honor. He was a guy who played multiple positions and played the game at a high level with so much passion and grit. I think Zaven embodies what Bronko Nagurski and this award represent.”
The official presentation of the award by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the award’s sponsor, will occur at a later date.
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