July 10, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan defensive end Frank Clark (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville), defensive back Blake Countess (Owings Mills, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) and linebacker Jake Ryan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) were included on the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List released on Thursday (July 10). The Bronko Nagurski Award has been presented annually to the National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993.
Clark, who earlier this week was included on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. He started all 13 games of his junior campaign and recorded 43 tackles, including 12.0 for loss with 4.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. His tackles for loss total ranked 11th in the Big Ten, and his sacks total tied for 16th in the conference. He registered a single-game career-high nine tackles at Michigan State and tied his career high with 2.5 tackles for loss at Iowa. In his career, Clark has accumulated 78 tackles, 21.5 for loss with 6.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one interception and seven pass breakups.
Countess started all 13 games for the Wolverines last season and was named first-team All-Big Ten. He tied for the conference lead and for seventh in the NCAA with six interceptions and also added 46 tackles, including 2.0 for loss, and returned one of his interceptions 72 yards for a touchdown in the 42-13 win against Minnesota. He grabbed two interceptions in U-M's 41-30 victory against Notre Dame in front of the largest crowd to witness a college or NFL game. In his career, Countess has appeared in 26 games with 20 starts and recorded 90 tackles, 3.5 for loss, six interceptions, 10 pass breakups and one forced fumble.
Ryan, who was also named to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award on Monday, served as a team captain last season and registered 30 tackles, 4.5 for loss, over the final eight games after recovering from an injury that occurred during spring practice. In 2012, he was a second-team All-Big Ten performer when he led the team with 88 tackles, including 16.0 for loss with 4.5 sacks, and tied the Michigan single-season record with four forced fumbles. In his career, Ryan has registered 155 tackles, including 31.5 for loss with 7.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four pass breakups. He has recorded at least one tackle for loss in 25 of his last 30 games.
Michigan is one of 12 schools that has at least three players on the 81-player watch list, and the Wolverines are one of only two schools in the Big Ten with three representatives on the list.
Five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy will be announced Nov. 20. The winner will be announced at the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet on Dec. 8 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte.
Media Contacts: Derek Satterfield, Zach Eisendrath (734) 647-1192