CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) – For the second time in three
years, an Oklahoma defensive back has claimed the Bronko Nagurski
On Monday night, OU cornerback Derrick Strait was named
the 11th winner of the award, which is presented annually by the
Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte
Tocuhdown Club to the best defensive player in college football.
Two years ago the award went to another OU defensive back, Roy
Williams, now a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
"You see very few players who have the impact on the game like
he does," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of Strait. "I have
never seen a guy do what he does.
"His leadership, toughness, his ability to make plays and affect
other players.The last several years he has been a great leader
and made a difference in a very good football program."
Strait won the award over teammate Tommie Harris, a tackle on
Oklahoma's defense. Other Bronko Nagurski finalists were UCLA end
Dave Ball, LSU tackle Chad Lavalais and West Virginia linebacker
"I am surprised because there are a lot of great defensive players
here," Strait said. "I am just happy to be in the same group. Winning
"I feel this was one of my best seasons," Strait said. "I had
a better season last season interception-wise. But this season I
had a better all-around season.
"Coach Mike Stoops made me the player I was," Strait said of
OU's former co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach who has
accepted the head coaching position at Arizona. "I hadn't played
that much cornerback before I got to Oklahoma."
All the players are members of the FWAA's 25-man All-America
team which also be honored Friday night in Orlando, Fla., on the
floor of the Citrus Bowl Stadium.
But the best of the defender as voted upon by the FWAA All-America
committee was Strait, a native of Austin, Texas.
Strait, a 5-11, 195 senior, has had an outstanding season in
which he is the third-leading OU tackler with 69 (47 unassisted),
had seven tackles for 19 yards in losses, intercepted three passes
for 127 return yards. He has set Oklahoma career records for passes
broken up, career starts and interception return yards.
He has also made big plays in big games.
Strait's interception against Texas early in the game keyed a
65-13 OU victory in which he also had 11 tackles (one for loss),
two fumble recoveries and three passes broken up. He had an interception
and 97-yard return against Texas Tech.
"You have to play big in the big games," Strait said. "I made
the first interception (against Texas) and we just kept rolling
from there on out."
Strait said he expected Lavalais or Wiley to win the award. But
Harris all along was projecting Strait as the winner.
"Definitely," Harris said of Strait winning. "He has the ability
to change the whole game. I have never seen a cornerback on one
side of the field make so many things happen."
Strait has broken up 11 passes this season, recovered four fumbles,
and forced two fumbles.
"I like to tackle more than anything, being physical," Strait
said. "I played safety in high school and I still have those tactics.
But I like breaking up passes and intercepting them and then trying
to run with them."