Nov. 19, 2002
Notre Dame, Ind. – Senior cornerback Shane Walton was named one of five finalists today for the 2002 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player in college football by the Football Writers’ Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Walton joins Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson, Kansas State defensive back Terrence Newman, Georgia defensive end David Pollack and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs as finalists for the award with the winner announced on Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C.
“I am truly honored to be a finalist for this prestigious award and to even be mentioned with such great players as E.J., Terrence, Terrell and David,” Walton says.
“It is a tribute to my teammates and coaches that I have had such success this season. Without them, this would not even be possible.”
Walton, who becomes the first Notre Dame player to be a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, leads a potent Irish defense which is ranked ninth in the country in total defense and fifth in scoring defense allowing only 14.5 points a game. The Irish are 9-1 on the season and are currently ranked eighth in the country with games against Rutgers and USC left on the schedule.
Walton, who only three years ago was the leading scorer on the Notre Dame men’s soccer team, currently leads the Irish in interceptions in 2002 with six. His six picks rank him eighth in the Division I college football and are the most interceptions by a Notre Dame player since Todd Lyght recorded eight during the 1989 season. The fifth-year player recorded three of his interceptions against Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, setting a new Kickoff Classic record and tying the Notre Dame record for interceptions in a game.
The native of San Diego, Calif., then earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his outstanding performance against Michigan. In that game, he knocked down a critical two-point conversion in the final minutes of the game to preserve Notre Dame’s 25-23 lead and then clinched the victory by intercepting a pass with under a minute to go in the contest.
Walton, a three-time captain this season, also set a career-high with nine tackles in Notre Dame’s 35-24 win over Florida State and swatted down three balls. On the season, Walton is fifth on the team in tackles with 51, including 32 solos. He has four tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble on the season.
“Shane has had a tremendous season for us,” head coach Tyrone Willingham says.
“Although Shane would be the first one to admit that great players have a great team that surrounds him, he has made big plays for us when we needed them this season and has been instrumental in the success we have had.”
All the players are first-time finalists for the FWAA Defensive Player of the Year Award, which is in its 10th year of existence. Henderson was a member of the FWAA All-American from last season.
The finalists were selected by the FWAA All-America Committee, which is balanced across the country. Walton and Suggs are the only two finalists that won FWAA Defensive Player of the Week Awards this past season.
For more information on Shane Walton and the rest of Notre Dame’s All-America candidates, please visit http://und.ocsn.com/sports/m-footbl/all-stars.html