The Nagurski Trophy is given by the Charlotte Touchdown Club for the "best defensive player in college football." No Auburn Tiger has won the award.
As I wrote the other day, Jones is starting to pick up a lot of recognition for his play in the secondary over the last few seasons. He will be the senior defensive leader in the defensive backfield this year. He tied for the team lead in interceptions last season and made a few very clutch interceptions in the end zone. Jones will be one of Auburn's representatives for Monday's SEC Media Days, and will likely also make the Thorpe Award Watch List.
One of the best run-stopping linebackers in the SEC last year, McKinzy will be the quarterback of Will Muschamp's defense in 2015. Second on the team in tackles last season, McKinzy will be a force to reckon with. Having him return for his senior season may be one of the best recruiting jobs Muschamp did when he first arrived on the Plains. Learning under Muschamp and new linebackers coach Lance Thompson could really push Cass to the next level.
I have to admit I was shocked to see Lawson on this list. Not because he doesn't belong, but because of him sitting out last season with his knee injury. We suspect he will be back at full speed or better, but no one really knows how he'll hold up right now.
These are just watch lists, though, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all. If Lawson is healthy and has learned as much as it sounds like he has just judging by reading various articles on him this off season, then he could be primed for a beast of a year. That's particularly true if Byron Cowart is ready to play on the other edge or if DaVonte Lambert steps up to take on the other edge roll, as well.