DALLAS (FWAA) – Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts ascended to the top spot among FBS interceptions leaders with two picks during last week’s 58-7 win over Pitt. Now with six interceptions on the season and for maintaining a high standard in the Irish defensive backfield, Watts has earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Oct. 28, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Watts was also the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for games the weekend of Oct. 14 following another two-interception game against USC. He is the only FBS player to have two multi-interception games this season.

Each week during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce finalists for the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 15. The national defensive player of the year will be chosen from those finalists who are part of the 2023 FWAA All-America Team and presented with the trophy at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet on Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Players may be added or removed from the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list during the season. Watts was already a member from his Oct. 17 selection. Each week’s honored player is added at that time. Already on the watch list from Notre Dame are linebacker JD Bertrand and cornerback Benjamin Morrison.

Watts, a 5-11, 200-pound senior safety but with junior eligibility from Omaha, Neb., has been a point-producer for Notre Dame (7-2) despite playing defense. His six interceptions have led to 30 points for the Irish – including a pick-six by Watts – just short of 10 percent of Notre Dame’s (345) scoring this season. Watts gained 31 yards on his two interception returns against Pitt and also had three tackles, one of them a TFL.

Notre Dame held Pitt’s passing game in check due in part to Watts’ efforts. Pitt entered the game averaging 320.9 yards of total offense per game, but the Irish held them to just 255 yards. The Irish snagged four interceptions against Pitt quarterbacks who had only thrown five coming into the game. Irish teammates Christian Gray and Jaden Mickey also had interceptions.

Watts’ six interceptions account for almost half of Notre Dame’s 13 total interceptions, a team figure that ranks third among all FBS teams. Watts has 39 tackles this season to lead the Notre Dame defensive backs and list fourth on the team. Notre Dame’s four defensive touchdowns

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2012. He is Notre Dame’s lone previous winner. Fellow linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was a finalist for the award in 2020, as was cornerback Shane Walton in 2002. The Fighting Irish have had a defensive back earn FWAA All-America status in three of the past five seasons – two-time first-team All-America safety Kyle Hamilton did it in 2020 and 2021, and cornerback Julian Love earned it in 2018, also on the first team.

The Irish play one of the country’s feature games on Saturday, traveling to Clemson for a Noon ET kickoff on ABC.

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. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday. For more information about the NCFAA and its award programs, visit the redesigned or follow on Twitter at @NCFAA.

Coca-Cola Consolidated is the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. For 120 years, we have been deeply committed to the consumers, customers, and communities we serve and are passionate about the broad portfolio of beverages and services we offer. We make, sell, and distribute beverages of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies in more than 300 brands and flavors across 14 states and the District of Columbia to approximately 60 million consumers. We are based in the Southeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic portion of the United States. Behind every new flavor and timeless classic is something bigger. Our 17,000 teammates pour their hearts into their work every day. Some say you can’t bottle this kind of passion, but we do it every day for you. At Coca-Cola Consolidated, we strive to fulfill our Purpose – to honor God in all we do, to serve others, to pursue excellence, and to grow profitably. At the core of our culture is a focus on service. Our teammates have a passion for serving each other along with our consumers, our customers, and our communities. We offer a range of nonalcoholic beverage products and flavors, including both sparkling and still beverages, designed to meet the demands of our consumers. Our sparkling, or carbonated, beverages include the trademark Coca-Cola brand and our still beverages include energy products and non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, tea, ready to drink coffee, enhanced water, juices, and sports drinks.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region. Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than 80 companies. The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches. Through individual and corporate support, nearly $3,000,000 has been raised and donated to benefit the Touchdown Club’s scholarship efforts.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team

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