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T.J. McDonald - USC Named the Jim Thorpe Winner

T.J. McDonald of USC Named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week Award

Southern Cal safety T.J. McDonald wins the Jim Thorpe weekly award after making several big plays in their 48-41 win over Arizona. McDonald had another strong performance that included six tackles, a pass break up and two key interceptions in the 1st quarter that allowed USC to take an early 17-0 lead.

Photo - Safety T.J. McDonald – USC

McDonald also sealed the Trojans win by recovering Arizona’s onside kick with a minute left after the Wildcats had cut the lead to seven. Also noteworthy of McDonald’s outstanding effort was his first interception ended Arizona quarterback Nick Foles’ streak of 210 passes without an interception dating back to 2010.

McDonald who was named a team captain this season was also a member of the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List after earning second team All-Pac-10 honors a season ago. He ranks as DraftInsiders.com #1 safety for the NFL Draft currently. As a junior, he would have to declare in January 2012 to enter the NFL process.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards. He has voted in the Jim Thorpe award for the past 15 years. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game.

Honorable Mention Players for Week Five:

Jarred Holley, Pittsburgh, Junior Free Safety-Holley had a team-high 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble in Pittsburgh’s 44-17 win over USF. Holley spearheaded a Pitt defense that held USF to nearly 100 yards below its season average and 28.5 points below their season scoring average.

Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, Sophomore Nickel Back Safety-Three Jefferson interceptions on three straight drives powered a second quarter scoring surge in Oklahoma’s 62-6 rout of Ball State. All three of Jefferson’s interceptions led to Sooner touchdowns and they came against Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning who had not thrown an interception in 176 attempts.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU, Sophomore Cornerback - Mathieu continued his impressive sophomore campaign with five tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, returning one 23 yards for a touchdown in LSU’s 35-7 win over Kentucky.

Keith Tandy, West Virginia, Senior Cornerback-Tandy had two interceptions that he returned for a combined 29 yards along with two pass breakups and three solo tackles in West Virginia’s 55-10 win over Bowling Green.

About the Jim Thorpe Award:
The Thorpe Award, one of the most coveted awards in college football, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2011. The Award, established in 1986, 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.

The candidates for the award are selected by a “screening committee” of Jim Thorpe Association members who follow several players throughout the season, watching games and researching information sources to grade Thorpe Award candidates on the basis of performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The committee then narrows the field to three finalists and the names of these finalists are submitted to a national panel of about 50 sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner.

The Thorpe Award Winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 8, 2011 on ESPN.

The 25th Anniversary Jim Thorpe Award Banquet will be held on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Jim Thorpe Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official website, ncfaa.org.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe and All-American teams. 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. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards.