DALLAS (FWAA) – Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard made a career-high 19 tackles that included 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack as the Bears remained undefeated with a 29-23 overtime win at TCU. For posting Baylor’s highest tackle total since 2011, Bernard earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Weekhonor for games of the weekend of Nov. 9, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
Bernard, a 6-1, 222-pound sophomore from La Porte, Texas also hauled in his first interception of the season and the second of his career to halt a TCU drive at the end of the third quarter. Bernard began the season starting the first three games at weakside linebacker. He didn’t start the next three games before moving into the middle when seasoned starter Clay Johnston suffered a season-ending injury Oct. 12 in an overtime win over Texas Tech. Bernard has since surpassed Johnston as the team’s tackles leader with 68, 29 of those being solo tackles (second on the team to Johnston).
Since taking over as the starter at middle linebacker (three starts), Bernard is averaging 12.7 tackles per game with 5.0 TFL’s and 2.0 sacks, and has an interception. On the season, the Baylor defense is on pace to re-write its record book. The Bears have 29 sacks in the first nine games of a season, most in its Big 12 era and Baylor has held nine straight conference opponents to less than 30 points for the first time since joining the league.
Baylor is the only Big 12 team yet to allow 28 points in regulation and leads the conference and is 17th nationally in scoring defense (19.0 ppg). It has allowed 30 points or less in nine straight games, the seventh-best streak in FBS. The Bears lead the Big 12 and are 14th nationally with those 29 sacks after only posting 25.0 in 13 games in 2018. Their 69.0 TFL’s this season is tops in the Big 12 and 16th in the FBS.
Bernard’s honor is only the second time for a Baylor player to earn the FWAA’s National Defensive Player of the Week. Travon Blanchard earned it in 2016 after an 11-tackle, 4.5-TFL game against Oklahoma State. The last time a Baylor player had as many as Bernard’s 19 tackles was Sam Holl (21 against Kansas in 2011).
Baylor’s defensive prowess, led by Bernard, comes with its biggest test looming on Saturday when it hosts Oklahoma, the nation’s total offense leader, in a primetime showcase.
Each Tuesday during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. Bernard will be added to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Wed., Nov. 20. The winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2019 FWAA All-America Team.
The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists. The committee members then select the winner as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet presented by LendingTree will be held on Mon., Dec. 9 in Charlotte. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award.
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.