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Crimson Tide & Cowboy Defenders Head 2011 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

2011 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

Photo - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU

Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin and cornerback Brodrick Brown are two of 15 national semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top defensive back, it was announced today.

OSU joins Alabama as the only two schools with multiple players on the Thorpe Award semifinalist list. This week's SEC clash of Alabama and LSU will feature three defensive backs from the Thorpe award list. Most NFL scouts believe that as many as 8 defensive backs from this game will eventually start as pro defenders. Our highest rated cornerback Pro Prospect for the NFL Draft 2012 currently is Alabama defender Dre Kirkpatrick. He combines rare size and athleticism with speed and physical toughness to match up with premier receivers.

Maybe the best defensive player in the nation, sophomore Tyrann Mathieu of LSU was omitted from this list after a one game suspension in October. Teammate Morris Claiborne has excelled through the first two months of the 2011 season and will be center stage this Saturday night as the Tigers battle the Crimson Tide for undisputed claim for the #1 national ranking.

Cowboy defenders, Martin and Brown have factored prominently in Oklahoma State’s 8-0 start to the season and No. 3 ranking in both the Associated Press poll and BCS rankings. The two are leaders of a Cowboy defense that leads in the nation in turnovers gained, passes intercepted and fumbles recovered.

Martin is the top-ranked safety on Mel Kiper’s Big Board and ranks third on the team with 47 tackles. He adds 4.0 tackles for loss and seven passes deflected. His statistics are even more remarkable given the fact that most teams have avoided his side of the field this season.

Brown has been a key part of Oklahoma State’s turnover surge this season, ranking among the national leaders with four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He has logged 25 tackles, two tackles for loss and ties with Martin for the team lead with seven passes defended.

University of South Carolina senior defensive back Antonio Allen was also named by the Jim Thorpe Association for the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award. Allen is a 6-2, 202-pounder who leads the Gamecocks with 62 tackles, an average of 7.8 per game, and has four games of 10 or more tackles this season. He has recovered three fumbles, has forced three fumbles and has three interceptions. He has scored a pair of touchdowns, returning a fumble against East Carolina and an interception at Georgia.

The presentation of the Thorpe Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards live on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. The show, hosted by ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard will feature the live presentation of nine player awards, along with the recipients of Disney’s Spirit Award; The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award, the NCFAA (National College Football Awards Association) Contributions to College Football Award; and student-athletes selected to the Walter Camp All-America Team.

Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

Antonio Allen - South Carolina
David Amerson - North Carolina State
Jonathan Banks - Mississippi State
Mark Barron - Alabama
Brandon Boykin - Georgia
Brodrick Brown - Oklahoma State
Morris Claiborne - LSU
Casey Hayward - Vanderbilt
Jayron Hosley - Virginia Tech
Tony Jefferson - Oklahoma
Dre Kirkpatrick - Alabama
Nigel Malone - Kansas State
Markelle Martin - Oklahoma State
T.J. McDonald - USC
Chase Minnifield - Virginia

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game.