In a field of finalists that included some defenders with far more notoriety -- Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Alabama's Reggie Ragland among them -- it was Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich who won the Nagurski Award as the top defensive player in college football.
"I didn't even think about (winning)," Matakevich said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "I never would have thought I could be in this position. It's such a surreal experience."
The Charlotte Touchdown Club bestowed the award Monday on the Owls' outstanding inside linebacker. He made 126 tackles with 15 tackles for loss and made five interceptions for the Owls (10-3).
Penn State's Carl Nassib and Duke's Jeremy Cash were finalists as well. Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright won the award last year. The Nagurski Award was established in 1993 to complement the Heisman Trophy, which had never been presented to a defensive player at the time.
Matakevich (6-1, 235), a junior, joined former New York Jets star Joe Klecko as two of only three players in Temple history to record three 100-tackle seasons. He is also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Award, named for former San Francisco 49ers star Ronnie Lott, and presented to a top college player who also excels off the field.