July 8, 2011
RENO, Nev. - Three University of Nevada football players were honored this week by being named to watch lists for various awards.
On Friday, senior linebacker James-Michael Johnson was named to the watch list for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive player. Johnson is one of 87 players nationally on the list and one of just three from the Western Athletic Conference.
Also on Friday, junior guard Chris Barker was named to the watch list for the 2011 Outland Trophy, given annually to the nation's top interior lineman. There are 65 players on the list and Barker is one of just two from the WAC.
Earlier this week, senior wide receiver Rishard Matthews was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which is doled out annually to the nation's top receiver.
Johnson, a senior from Fairfield, Calif., is a two-time All-WAC performer at linebacker who served as a team captain last season as a junior. He led the team in tackles and was among the WAC leaders with 84 stops on the season. He registered eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks on the year while forcing three fumbles and recovering one.
Barker is a junior from Fontana, Calif., who has started all 27 games of his career. He earned second-team All-WAC honors in 2010 after a superb sophomore season in which he helped pave the way for one of the top offenses in the nation.
Matthews, a senior from Santa Ana, Calif., led Nevada in all receiving categories in his first year with the Pack in 2010 as he had 56 catches for 879 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 62.8 yards per game. He was named second-team All-WAC for his efforts. He is also a dangerous return man as he averaged 9.8 yards per return, including a 72-yarder for a touchdown in the 20-13 win over Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.