Fresno State safety Derron Smith was one of 42 college football players to be named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list, which was released on Wednesday.
Named after USC and San Francisco 49ers legend Ronnie Lott, the IMPACT Trophy is meant to recognize the athlete who best exemplifies the award's acronym: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. Last year's winner was UCLA's Anthony Barr, a top-ten selection in the recently concluded NFL Draft. Smith, who finished last season with a conference-best seven interceptions and also chipped in four sacks, is the only Mountain West defender on this year's list and one of eight to make their second straight appearance. He is also one of seven safeties to be so recognized.
After some deliberation about jumping to the professional ranks, it's already starting to look like the senior star made a good choice by staying in school. No doubt he will carry a great deal of responsibility into the 2014 campaign as the leader of Nick Toth's aggressive defense.