Tigers' Bowers wins Nagurski in tough year

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Amid his year of tragedy, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers slimmed down, got serious about football and had a breakout season.

Da'Quan Bowers excelled while dealing with the death of his father and a close friend. He was honored with the trophy for the nation's top defensive player.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Da'Quan Bowers excelled while dealing with the death of his father and a close friend. He was honored with the trophy for the nation's top defensive player.

Bowers was honored for his dominance Monday night with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player, an award he wishes he could share with his father and his mentor.

Playing with a heavy heart after the deaths this year of his father, Dennis , and close friend Gaines Adams of the Chicago Bears, Bowers burst onto the scene after two mediocre years. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound junior leads the nation with 15 1/2 sacks, and his 25 tackles for a loss rank second in the country.

Bowers, one of the nation's top recruits coming out of high school, had managed only four sacks in his first two college seasons.

"He's excelled in every area," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's had to overcome some personal tragedy and has still been able to stay focused. He's become the inspirational leader of our team. To see him being honored is really heartwarming for me." Bowers edged out Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley , Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly , Georgia linebacker Justin Houston and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson for the award.

COLORADO: Jon Embree , a former standout tight end and one-time assistant at Colorado, was officially introduced as the new coach after accepting a five-year deal worth about $1 million a season, not counting incentives.

He steps in for Dan Hawkins , who was fired after going 19-39 during four-plus underachieving seasons in Boulder.

Joining Embree's staff will be another former Buffs stalwart, Eric Bieniemy , who will finish out the season as the Minnesota Vikings running backs coach.

Brian Cabral , a longtime assistant who served as interim coach after Hawkins' departure, also will stay put.

TEXAS: Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has resigned and two other assistant coaches are retiring after the Longhorns' first losing season since 1997.

Davis, who has been with coach Mack Brown for 13 seasons at Texas, had been under fire all season as Texas finished 5-7 and didn't qualify for a bowl. It was Brown's first losing season since 1989. The Longhorns finished last in the Big 12 South and went 2-5 at home, losing four in a row at one point.

Offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Mike Tolleson are retiring.

AUBURN: Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn won the annual Broyles Award given to the nation's top college assistant coach on Monday. Malzahn is also the quarterbacks coach for the top-ranked Tigers.

HEAD GAMES: Police say the oversized mascot head of ESPN analyst Lee Corso has been recovered, and two men who had attended the University of Oregon have been cited on theft charges. The $5,000 prop used each week on ESPN's College Gameday was reported stolen in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday after the annual game between Oregon and Oregon State.

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