Texas Tech senior linebacker Dakota Allen has been named to the Bronko Nagurski Award watch list, a sign that many expect a huge 2018 from the Red Raider’s defensive leader.
Tuesday, Dakota Allen received an honor that would have seemed impossible two years ago when he was kicked off the Texas Tech football team and jettisoned to East Mississippi Community College to star on season two of “Last Chance U”. The senior linebacker was one of 97 players named to the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Award watch list.
Awarded by the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the Nagurski Award is one of the most prestigious awards in college football.
"According to the Charlotte Touchdown Club’s website, “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 complement the Heisman Trophy Award, which at the time had never been presented to a defensive player.”"
Throughout the award’s history, some of the most notable names in the game have received the Nagurski award. Past winners include defensive tackle Warren Sap (Miami-1994), Charles Woodson (Michigan-1997), Roy Williams (Oklahoma-2001), Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska-2009), Luke Keuchly (Boston College-2011) and Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh-2013). The 2017 winner, Bradley Chubb of N.C. State was taken with the No. 5 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
The 2018 watch list currently includes players from 61 teams. The most notable and favorite for the award is Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who Texas Tech will see in the third week of the season. Other 2018 Texas Tech opponents on the watch list include DB Dravon Askew-Henry of West Virginia, DE Ben Banogu of TCU, DB Kris Boyd of Texas, DT Daniel Wise of Kansas, DB Duke Shelly of Kansas State, LB David Long Jr. of West Virginia, DT Ray Lima of Iowa State and DT Ira Lewis of Baylor.
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Allen, one of three Red Raiders to earn Preseason 1st team All-Big 12 defensive honors, is one of the best stories in college football. In 2016, Allen and two teammates were charged with second-degree burglary of a Lubbock residence resulting in all three being dismissed from the team.
But after a year in the JUCO ranks, Allen returned to the team in 2017 to lead the team with 102 tackles garnering second-team All-Big 12 honors. Now, he is the unquestioned leader of a Texas Tech defense that is expected to be the backbone of the program in 2018 with ten starters returning.
While the Touchdown Club of Charlotte recognizes what Dakota Allen brings to the field, apparently, not everyone in the country is aware of the Red Raiders’ star LB. Allen was left off the Butkus Award watch list which is given to the nation’s best linebacker. Monday, 51 linebackers were named to the watch list, including four players from the Big 12, but not Dakota Allen.
Ultimately, Allen is only focused on winning. After a year in the wastelands of JUCO football, Allen knows that he is fortunate to be back at Texas Tech and in 2018, his focus is solely on helping the Red Raiders win. If that happens, awards and accolades will take care of themselves.