Photo – In The Huddle
The backbone of Louisville’s defense, senior safety Hakeem Smith, has been named to the preseason Bronco Nagurski watchlist. The award, given out annually to the nation’s top defensive player as voted on by the FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown club, is the second such prestigious preseason watchlist that Smith has been named to this week (on Monday he was named a candidate for the Bednarik award). Smith is vying to become just the second player in Louisville football history to be named to an all-conference team four years in a row. A second-team honoree last season, Smith finished third on the squad with 73 tackles, but has been a mainstay in the secondary with 38 career starts and owns a string of 37 straight. Smith posted a career-best 88 tackles in 2010 when he was tabbed the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a first team all-league performer in 2011 when he was credited with 84 tackles and three forced fumbles. He’ll attempt to join Elvis Dumervil (2005) as the only other Louisville player to win the Nagurski award.