Cornerback Antone Exum and linebacker Jack Tyler were two of 81 players named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given annually to college football’s top defender.
Guard/center Andrew Miller, meanwhile, was one of 75 linemen on the Outland Trophy list, given to the country’s top interior lineman on offense or defense.
The Charlotte Touchdown Club awards both trophies. Defensive end James Gayle made a previous watch list for defensive player of the year, the Bednarik Award.
Exum, a senior from Glen Allen, Va., was a second-team All-ACC pick in his first year at cornerback last season after finishing with 48 tackles, a team-high five interceptions and an ACC-best 16 pass breakups. He earned MVP honors at the Russell Athletic Bowl after a key fourth quarter interception.
He tore his ACL playing pickup basketball in January and missed the spring but has rehabbed hard since, hoping to make it back in time for the Alabama opener. Trainer Mike Goforth told Frank Beamer‘s website yesterday that he’s encouraged by Exum’s progress and said the cornerback participated in all 16 110-yard sprints with the linemen in a recent workout. He has an examination of his knee scheduled for Aug. 5.
Tyler, a senior from Oakton who is a former walk-on, earned first-team All-ACC honors from the coaches last season after finishing with a team-high 119 tackles to go with 13 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
Miller, a senior from Bassett, has 21 career starts at center. He played seven games last year before breaking his fibula and tearing ligaments in his left ankle against Duke. He was a partial participant in the spring and got plenty of work at guard, which might be his position in 2013.
Twelve ACC players made the Nagurski list, including Georgia Tech end Jeremiah Attaochu, North Carolina defensive back Tre Boston and end Kareem Martin, Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell, Pittsburgh tackle Aaron Donald, Florida State tackle Timmy Jernigan, linebacker Christian Jones and safety Lamarcus Joyner, Boston College linebacker Kevin-Pierre Louis and Wake Forest tackle Nikita Whitlock.
Twelve ACC players were also on the Outland list. They include Donald, Whitlock, Jernigan, Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving, guard Tre Jackson and center Bryan Stork, North Carolina offensive tackle James Hurst, Miami guard Brandon Linder, Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses, Clemson offensive tackle Brandon Thomas and Duke guard Laken Tomlinson.
Here are other Hokies who have made watch lists: