One of the best Aztecs returning for the 2020 season, defensive tackle Cameron Thomas reels yet two more preseason awards to add to his resume.
The Football Writers Association of America announced their Nagurski and Outland Trophy watch lists early Tuesday which included San Diego State’s elite defensive lineman. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually to the best defensive player in the country and the Outland Trophy is handed to the nation’s top lineman on either side of the ball.
Thomas is one of 98 defensive stars to be selected to the Nagurski watch list and is one of just four out of Mountain West. The other three selected are Nevada’s Dom Peterson, Fresno State’s Justin Rice, and Boise State’s Kekaula Kaniho. As for the Outland, he is one of 85 to earn the honor nationally and one of seven from the conference.
He burst onto the scene in 2019, racking up 49 total tackles, 9 for loss, 5.5 sacks, and 2 pass deflections. It was his first time seeing significant playing time as he redshirted his true freshman season in 2018. You would not have known it was his first time on a D1 field as he dominated Mountain West offensive linemen.
Cameron notched various postseason accolades upon the conclusion of the 2019 season, becoming the only freshman on the all-Mountain West first-team, as well as being named to the all-American second-team by The Athletic. He is only a 6’5” and 260-pound redshirt sophomore with room to add muscle to his frame.
The Aztecs’ star defensive lineman flashed his stellar move set as a pass rusher and was tremendous at plugging holes in the run game. He has a bit of an issue with tackling but if he can work on that aspect of his game this offseason, there is no reason why he and Thompson can’t be the most dangerous defensive pairing in the Mountain West and even the Group of Five. The sky’s the limit for Thomas and he should improve tremendously in his second year on the gridiron for San Diego State.
The winner of the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by LendingTree as the National Defensive Player of the Year will be chosen from 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.
Here are all of the Aztecs who have earned preseason watch list honors thus far:
- Cameron Thomas, DL - Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy, and Nagurski Trophy
- Tariq Thompson, S - Jim Thorpe Award and Chuck Bednarik Award
- Darren Hall, CB - Jim Thorpe Award
- Daniel Bellinger, TE - John Mackey Award