Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins has won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy honoring the nation’s best defensive player.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins totaled 54 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions. The junior had three sacks against Oklahoma State. Two of his interceptions were game-clinchers — a late one against SMU and a 96-yard return for a touchdown against Tulane in overtime.
Collins is from Hominy, Oklahoma and played for small Hominy High School. Tulsa gave him his only Division I scholarship offer.
The Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club made the announcement Wednesday. The other finalists were Coastal Carolina defensive end Tarron Jackson, Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon, Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Collins was runner up for the Butkus Award honoring the nation’s best linebacker that went to Owusu-Koramoah.