Penn State’s Allen, Cabinda, Pitt’s Whitehead are Candidates for Nagurski Trophy

| July 14, 2017

CHARLOTTE – Penn State’s Marcus Allen and Jason Cabinda and Pitt’s Jordan Whitehead are all candidates for the Bruno Nagurski Trophy for the Football Writer’s Association of America’s National Defensive Player of the Year.

(Photo of Marcus Allen blocking a field goal against Ohio State during the 2016 season. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

Allen, a senior safety who is also on the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Bednarik Award watch lists, was selected third-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches and honorable mention by the media panel last season. He made a team- and career-high 110 tackles on the season to become the first Penn State safety to lead the team in tackles since Shawn Mayer (144) in 2002. He was honored as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Rose Bowl Player of the Week for his 22-tackle effort versus Minnesota Oct. 1. He also claimed Oct. 24 Co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week accolades after blocking a field goal attempt versus No. 2 Ohio State, which led to the game-winning touchdown by teammate Grant Haley. Allen finished the season ranked 16th in the Big Ten with 7.9 tackles per game and was third in the conference with two fumble recoveries. For his career, Allen has 249 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight pass breakups.

Cabinda, a senior linebacker, also earned on the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Bednarik Award watch lists. A 2017 team captain, Cabinda garnered third-team All-Big Ten accolades from the conference coaches, despite missing five games due to injury. He posted eight tackles or more in all nine games he played in last season and has logged eight or more tackles in 11 of his last 13 games, dating back to 2015. Cabinda finished third on the squad with 81 tackles in 2016, after posting 100 stops in his sophomore season. He had 13 tackles in the upset win over No. 2 Ohio State, including the game-clinching takedown of Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett on 4th-and-23 on OSU’s final drive. For his career, Cabinda has 198 tackles, eight pass breakups, 3.5 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss.

Whitehead, a junior safety, has tallied 174 total tackles, 10 passes defended, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over the last two seasons with the Panthers.

Twice an All-ACC selection at safety, Whitehead’s playmaking ability has resulted in defensive touchdowns on two occasions—first with a 22-yard fumble return against Navy in the 2015 Military Bowl and also on a 59-yard interception return in Pitt’s win at Virginia last fall.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is given yearly to the National Defensive Player of the Year. The award is named for legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota, Bronko Nagurski, who dominated college football then became a star for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s.

Penn State has never won a Nagurski Trophy but has had five finalists, most recently Carl Nassib in 2015.

Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the 2013 Nagurski Trophy winner.

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