"Individual awards are nice, but I think a lot of credit goes to everybody on our defense, Coach Petrino and our defensive coaches, Montavious Stanley and Amobi Okoye and our other guys up front getting great pressure up the middle," Dumervil said after receiving the award in Charlotte.
This is the first national player of the year award and top individual defensive honor ever earned by a Louisville player. Past winners of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy include Derrick Johnson of Texas (2004), Derrick Strait of Oklahoma (2003), Terrell Suggs of Arizona State (2002), Roy Williams of Oklahoma (2001), Dan Morgan of Miami (2000), Corey Moore of Virginia Tech (1999), Champ Bailey of Georgia (1998), Charles Woodson of Michigan (1997), Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995 and 1996), Warren Sapp of Miami (1994) and Rob Waldorf of Arizona (1993).
Dumervil, a 6-0, 256-pound native of Miami, Fla., leads the nation in sacks (20) and tackles for loss (23) and set a new NCAA record for forced fumbles in a single season with 10. Dumervil opened the season in a record-setting fashion as well setting an NCAA record for sacks in consecutive games with nine. Dumervil set an NCAA record for sacks in a single game with six against Kentucky on Sept. 4, and picked up half as many the following week against Oregon State to give him nine in two games. Pat Swilling of Georgia Tech held the old mark of eight in 1995.
The Cardinal defensive standout was selected over a talented group of finalists including Penn State senior end Tamba Hali (Teaneck, N.J.), Oregon junior tackle Haloti Ngata (Salt Lake City, Utah), Alabama senior linebacker DeMeco Ryans (Bessemer, Ala.) and Virginia Tech senior cornerback Jimmy Williams (Hampton, Va.).
Nagurski, in his day, was a massive 6-2, 225-pound physical specimen who dominated college football at Minnesota as a bruising fullback and tackle from 1927-29. He could have been an All-American at any position playing 60 minutes as the best player wherever he lined up. In 1929, he was the first player to be selected as a consensus All-American in the same year at two different positions. Some even named him an All-American end.
Dumervil and the 15th-ranked Cards (9-2) return to the field on Jan. 2 in the Toyota Gator Bowl at Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., against No. 12 Virginia Tech (10-2). Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on NBC.