The winner is selected by the FWAA All-America Committee from the association's All-America team in November. The Charlotte Touchdown Club hold its annual banquet December 7 at the Westin Hotel. The FWAA will also pick a Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week for the eighth consecutive season beginning with games August 30.
A total of four players from the Western Athletic Conference are on the list with Hawaii linebacker Solomon Elimimian and Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson joining Baker and Smith.
The Bronko Nagurski Award has been presented to the nation's top defensive player each year since 1993 in memory of the legendary All-America lineman from the University of Minnesota from 1927-29. Nagurski was also a star professional player for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s.