DALLAS (FWAA) – Senior Daniel McCullers and junior A.J. Johnson have earned their second watch list honor of the season after being named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List Thursday morning.
The duo was named to the Bednarik Award Watch List earlier this week.
The Nagurski Trophy, presented by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, honors the defensive player of the year.
McCullers and Johnson comprise two of 16 SEC players on the list and become the first Tennessee honorees since Malik Jackson and Prentiss Waggner earned the honor in 2011.
Tennessee is also one of just eight schools and the only SEC school with both a defensive lineman and a linebacker on the list.
Johnson, a 2012 All-SEC linebacker, finished the season fourth in the NCAA in tackles and tackles per game with 138 for 11.5 per game leading the SEC in tackles in his 12 starts.
A leader in the middle linebacker role, Johnson also had team-high 8.5 TFLs for 25 yards along with his first-career sack and eight quarterback hurries. He posted the most tackles by a Vol since Jerod Mayo made 140 in 2007 while his 75 assisted tackles are the third-most in a season at UT.
Johnson averaged 12.9 tackles over the last 10 games of the season with at least 11 tackles in each game.
In his first season at Rocky Top, McCullers made an instant impact on the Tennessee defensive line, starting seven games and accumulating 39 tackles, including 5.5 for negative yardage.