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Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead on preseason watch list for Bronko Nagurski Trophy

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It's preseason watch list time, which means you can expect to hear a slew of Panthers up for consideration for 2017 football season awards. Granted, players won't have much of a shot to win most of them but we've seen a few garner serious consideration or, in the case of Aaron Donald, actually bring several home in the same season.

First up this year is Jordan Whitehead, who was named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the top overall defensive player in college football.

One thing that should help Whitehead in his quest for a big season is his move to free safety. As I mentioned previously, most of Whitehead's statistical achievements to date have come in racking up big tackle totals since he has been a big part of the run defense. With him playing back now at field safety (Pitt's free safety designation), he will have a bigger chance at the numbers that voters will care more about - interceptions and passes defended.

Whitehead is, of course, still a longshot here. And with more than 100 players selected to the watch list, it's hard to take these things too seriously. But you can expect to see his pass defense statistics at least on the rise a little bit this season.

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