Daily Blog •July 11, 2011

For the past week I have been giving you the preseason watch lists for the various awards that I am a proud voting member for and with each of these lists I was an integral part in the players that were selected. One of those awards is the Jim Thorpe Award and today the 2011 Watch List was released.

The Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football was created in 1986 and is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2011. The Award is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.

Last year I was honored to pick the Jim Thorpe Award player of the week each and every week and we had a special page devoted to the Thorpe Award on the PhilSteele.com site weekly.

Here is the 2011 preseason watch list for the award. This watch list was determined by a committee of experts and we are very pleased at how the list has turned out. Some of the categories that the players were weighed on were not limited to how they expect to perform on the football field this year but also what they have done so far in their college careers. This includes several post-season and pre-season All-Conference and All-American lists. Also important to the award is their off-the-field contributions which effect their character. Finally, we considered their potential at the next level but talking to a several NFL draft experts who weighed in on the player’s strengths/weaknesses.

Keep in mind a player that is not on this list can still win the award as this list will be fluid throughout the season. In November the committee will meet to narrow the field to 10 or 12 semi-finalists and they will meet again on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select the three finalists. The names of these finalists are submitted to a national panel of over 50 sports writers, sportscasters, former players and coaches who vote to determine the winner. The finalists are invited to ESPN's College Football Awards Show, broadcast on December 8, 2011 from Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The winner is announced during the broadcast, but the official presentation of the award takes place on Tuesday, February 7, at the 25th Anniversary Jim Thorpe Award Banquet in Oklahoma City.

As of right now these are the top 37 candidates that were selected by a committee of experts.

2011 Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List

Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (FL), SS
Mark Barron, Alabama, SS
John Boyett, Oregon, FS
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB
Tony Dye, UCLA, CB
Matt Elam, Florida, SS
Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin, CB
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, CB
Donnie Fletcher, Boston College, CB
Blake Gideon, Texas, FS
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB
Delano Howell, Stanford, SS
Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State, SS
George Iloka, Boise State, FS
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, FS
Leonard Johnson, Iowa State, CB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB
Robert Lester, Alabama, FS
Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, SS
TJ McDonald, USC, FS
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Marco Nelson, Tulsa, FS
Brian Peters, Northwestern, FS
Greg Reid, Florida State, CB
Xavier Rhodes Florida State, CB
Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, FS
Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, FS
Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Kenny Tate, Maryland, FS
Tramain Thomas, Arkansas, FS
Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, SS

By Conference: SEC (10); ACC (7); Big 12 (6); Big 10 (4); PAC 12 (4); C-USA (2); WAC (2); Big East (1); Independents (1).

Only 51 Days Until the First College Football Game!!