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Nagurski and Outland Trophy Highlight Pac-12's Toughness In The Trenches

Watch out world, the Pac-12 is building winners from the inside out.

Max Tuerk has slid into the center role quite seamlessly this Spring.
Max Tuerk has slid into the center role quite seamlessly this Spring.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Finally some awards the Pac-12 can jump up and scream about. Both the Nagurski and Outland Trophy, which highlight greatness for interior lineman and defensive players, are thoroughly embedded with Pac-12 talent. While preseason awards continue to highlight the best defensive players in the country, this conference continues to pump out great players.

While the proofs in the pudding that the SEC, and their strong emphasis on running the football up the middle, have dominated in the trenches, the reputation of the Pac-12 continues to improve with some physically dominant prospects.

NAGURSKI TROPHY

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is one of the premier individual honors in college football given to the best defensive player in the country as voted on by the Football Writers Association of America. In today's college football where the value of defensive players are more predicated on attacking spread-option attacks, players would still love to control the field sideline-to-sideline and hopefully emulate award-winning NFL Pro Bowlers Warren Sapp and Charles Woodson.

Su'a Cravens

Hayes Pullard

Leonard Williams

While USC had three star-studded selections, Stanford and Washington were the only schools to have four players selected to the watch list, helping the Pac-12 lead all conferences with 18 selections. Here's the positional breakdown for the Nagurski Trophy: Defensive Tackles 10, Ends 23, Linebackers 24, Backs 24.

OUTLAND TROPHY

As might be expected, the five power NCAA Division I Conferences dominated. Following the SEC (19) were the Pac-12 (11), Big Ten (9), ACC (9) and Big 12 (9). The list will be trimmed to semifinalists on Nov. 20. Four days later, three finalists will be named before the winner of the 69th Outland Trophy will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 11. USC has not won the Outland Trophy since Ron Yary in 1967, but two talented Trojan lineman could change that fact this upcoming season.

Max Tuerk

Leonard Williams

The inclusion of Max Tuerk is well deserved, given his ability to play multiple positions with relative ease. The 2013 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention performer joins defensive stalwart Leonard Williams, who continues to accumulate preseason watch list awards, on this distinguished list. Here's the breakdown for the Outland Trophy: Offensive Tackles 22, Offensive Guards 14, Centers 14, Defensive Linemen/Tackles 14.

July 11: Jim Thorpe (defensive back)
July 14: Butkus (linebacker), Rotary Lombardi (lineman or linebacker)
July 15: Biletnikoff (wide receiver)
July 16: Davey O'Brien (quarterback)
July 17: Doak Walker (running back)
July 18: Walter Camp (player of the year)