Dom Peterson
Dom Peterson
RENO — Nevada junior defensive end Dom Peterson has been selected to preseason watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Outland Trophy.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player, while the Outland Trophy goes to the nation’s top lineman, either offensive or defensive.

He is one of 98 defensive standouts to be selected to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list from 66 schools and is one of four to make the list from the Mountain West.

For the Outland Trophy, he is one of 85 to earn the honor nationally and one of seven from the conference. Peterson is now on three preseason watch lists for 2020 as he was placed on the Bednarik Award watch list last week.

Peterson was named first team All-MW for the first time in his career after proving to be the Wolf Pack’s most dominant defensive lineman last season. 

The then-sophomore ranked second in the conference and led Nevada with 15.0 tackles for loss, 14 of them being solo. Peterson also led the team and ranked second in the MW with nine sacks. 

He recorded at least one tackle for loss in all but one game in 2019 and had his best performance of the year in a 21-10 win over New Mexico, where he recorded four solo tackles, three for loss and two sacks.

He was also named to the preseason All-MW first team by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele Magazine last month.

The winner of the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by LendingTree as the National Defensive Player of the Year will be chosen from those five finalists. 

The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

The recipient of the 75th Outland Trophy will be announced in early December. The official presentation to the winner will be made in Omaha, Neb., at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, scheduled for Jan. 13, 2021.

Lou Groza Award names Talton to

preseason watch list

After a stellar true freshman campaign in 2019, sophomore placekicker Brandon Talton has been named to the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top placekicker.

Talton was one of just 30 from around the country to make the initial watch list. 

He joins Matt Mercurio of San José State and Matt Araiza of San Diego State as the only three to be selected from the Mountain West. This marks the first preseason watch list honor of Talton’s career.

Talton, who was named to the All-MW second team last year, had an impressive rookie season with the Wolf Pack. His 21 made field goals are tied for third-most in a single season at Nevada. 

Talton began the season making the first 12 field goal attempts of his career without a miss. He was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on three occasions, including after week one when he drilled a 56-yard field goal to beat Purdue.

His 21 field goals were tied for third in the MW, while his 56-yard game-winner was the second-longest field goal made by anyone in the conference last season and was tied for seventh-longest nationally.

Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Nov. 5. 

From this list, a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers selects the top three finalists for the award, announced on Nov. 24.

That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Dec. 10 during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.

The 29th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl, recognizes the three finalists during a celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 7.

 The award is named for National Football League Hall of Fame kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. 

Although an All-Pro offensive lineman as well, Groza ushered in the notion that there should be a place on an NFL roster for a kicker.

Taua and Hall

 receive preseason watch list honors

Nevada junior running back Toa Taua has been placed on the preseason watch list for the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, while senior linebacker Lawson Hall was named to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy.

The Paul Hornung Award is presented annually to the nation’s most versatile player and is Taua’s second preseason watch list as he was selected to the Doak Walker Award watch list last week. 

The Wuerffel Trophy honors college football players who serve others, celebrates their positive impact on society, and inspires greater service in the world.

Taua, who earned an All-MW honorable mention last season, led Nevada with 807 yards on the ground in 2019. 

On 196 attempts, he scored six touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per rush. Putting together 62.1 yards per game, Taua went over the century mark twice last season with a huge game against San Jose State where he totaled 160. 

He also put up 135 at Fresno State, where he scored the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left in regulation.

In addition to his rushing numbers, Taua has made 52 receptions in his career totaling 387 yards. He has one touchdown reception in his 26 games played with a long reception of 41 yards and an average of 7.4 yards per catch. 

Taua, who is also expected to serve as one of the Pack’s kick returners this season, has returned seven kicks in his career, including five last year.

Over the last few years, Hall has been very active with community service. He has served as a mentor for young athletes in Los Angeles, providing them with knowledge, resources and advice on how to become a better student-athlete. 

He has also worked with kids in Reno, spending time at the Boys & Girls Club and local grade schools to read and interact with them, and to provide them with a positive figure to look up to. Hall has helped package meals for families in need in both Los Angeles and in Boise, Idaho prior to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl early in 2020.

Additionally, Hall has been an active part of the Black Lives Matter movement, helping to organize a team unity video on the subject in June, which led to him being invited to join a conference call with U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. On the call, Hall discussed racial injustice and provided recommendations to Senator Cortez Masto on what the federal government can do to implement systematic change.

On the field, Hall posted his best season to date with the Wolf Pack in 2019 as he finished the year tied for second on the defense with 58 total tackles, setting a single season career high.

He totaled 3.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on the year and added two interceptions. His two picks were tied for second-most on the team.

The formal announcement of the 2020 recipient will be made at the National Football Foundation’s festivities in New York City on Dec. 8. 

The presentation of the 2020 Wuerffel Trophy will occur at the 52nd All Sports Association Awards Banquet on Feb. 19, 2021 in Fort Walton Beach.

Maxwell Award adds Strong to preseason watch list

Nevada sophomore quarterback Carson Strong has earned a spot on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding player in college football.

This is the first preseason watch list honor for Strong, although he has received other preseason recognition as Athlon Sports named him to its preseason All-Mountain West fourth team. 

He is one of 90 to earn a spot on the preseason watch list and is one of eight from the conference.

In his redshirt freshman season in 2019, Strong served as Nevada’s primary starting quarterback, appearing and starting in 10 contests. He threw for 2,335 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, completing 63.4 percent of his passes. Strong averaged 233.5 passing yards per game, good for fifth in the Mountain West. 

In his first-ever collegiate start, he helped Nevada knock off Purdue to start the season in a come-from-behind effort where he tossed three touchdowns, no interceptions and 295 yards. Strong threw a career-best 402 passing yards in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Ohio, where along with his 31 completions, were Nevada bowl game records.

The Maxwell Award has been presented to the College Player of the Year since 1937 and is named in honor of Robert “Tiny” Maxwell, a former standout at the Swarthmore College and a renowned sports writer and football official.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Nov. 3, while the three finalists for the Maxwell

Award will be unveiled Nov. 23. The winner of the 2020 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 10. 

The formal presentations of this award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 12, 2021.