BOONE, N.C. — Add the prestigious Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor to the recognition for Appalachian State’s Demetrius Taylor following his generational performance in a 34-31 win at North Carolina.
A junior defensive end from Miami, Taylor became the first FBS player in this millennium with 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception in the same game.
Presented by the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski award is Taylor’s fourth national defensive player of the week honor. Lindy’s named him its national defensive player of the week Tuesday, and he was also named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
As a weekly winner, Taylor will be added to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.
With App State trailing 7-6 in the first quarter Saturday, Taylor rushed around the end, knocked the ball loose with a blindside sack, returned to his feet, scooped the ball up at the 20 and raced into the end zone.
Five minutes later, Taylor fought off a low block and returned to his feet in time to deflect a hard, low-release pass to the left. He located the ball in time to intercept it near midfield and gain 19 yards on a return to the UNC 26. That play set up another App State touchdown.
Taylor forced another fumble on a sack later in the game and also knocked down a red-zone throw help force a short field goal during an afternoon in which he posted four total tackles.
The last time an FBS player had 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown — without intercepting a pass like Taylor did against UNC — was Georgia’s Marcus Howard in the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii at the end of the 2007 season. According to Sports Reference, there isn’t another player with those four statistical accomplishments for the 2019 season to date, and only one FBS player in 2018 reached those four statistical totals for the entire season.
Taylor ranks in the top 10 nationally in forced fumbles per game (No. 1, 1.0), tackles for loss per game (No. 4, 2.0) and sacks per game (No. 8, 1.17). During App State’s 3-0 start, he has compiled three forced fumbles, six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception, one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.