Malaki Starks named 2023 Bronco Nagurski Trophy finalist
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Malaki Starks named 2023 Bronco Nagurski Trophy finalist

Malaki Starks
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

UGA football sophomore safety Malaki Starks has been named a finalist for the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Award, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced on Wednesday.

The Bronko Nagurski trophy is an annual award given to the top defensive player in college football as voted by the FWAA.

Starks joins four other finalists for the award, including Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean, Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton, Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts, and NC State linebacker Payton Wilson.

Here is what the FWAA had to say about Malaki Starks:

An imposing safety and one of the top underclassmen in the country, Starks lists fifth on the team with 33 tackles, ties for second with five pass breakups and has two interceptions. He has led the Bulldogs in tackles in two games this year against UT-Martin and Kentucky. Starks had 10 tackles against Tennessee last year, a career high, and faces the Vols again this weekend. Georgia, the top team in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, is on a school record 27-game winning streak that is third in SEC history.

Georgia is well represented in Bronko Nagurski Trophy history. A fellow Bulldog defensive back, cornerback Champ Bailey, is the lone winner from 1998. But the Bulldogs have now had a finalist in three consecutive seasons and in five of the last six seasons (safety Chris Smith in 2022, defensive tackle Jordan Davis in 2021; safety J.R. Reed in 2019; linebacker Roquan Smith in 2017) and now nine finalists all-time. Eight of their nine finalists now have been in-state recruits.

The FWAA All-America Committee will select the winner of the Bronko Nagurski trophy on Monday, Dec. 4 at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.

Malaki Starks, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore, has started at defensive back in all 10 games so far this season. Starks has recorded 33 total tackles (21 solo), two interceptions, and five pass break-ups.

The Georgia Bulldogs, currently ranked first by the CFP, are next scheduled to play the 18th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 18. The game will be televised by CBS at 3:30pm ET (Buy Tickets).

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