The three finalists for the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in college football, were announced on Monday by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Senior cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State and Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State all made the final cut. The winner will be announced on Dec. 12.
Dennard ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (4), pass break-ups (7) and passes defended (11) and is one of the main reasons why Michigan State leads the FBS in total defense. He ranks fifth on the team with 47 tackles, including two for losses, and has one forced fumble. Dennard is also a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy.
Gilbert leads the Big 12 with six interceptions this season. He has two pick-sixes on the year (at Iowa State and at Texas). His 11 career interceptions rank him 16th among all active players and his 25 career pass break-ups are the most for any Cowboy. Additionally, he has three non-offensive touchdowns this year; a 31-yard interception return at Iowa State, a 100-yard kickoff return vs. Kansas and a 43-yard interception return at Texas. He has eight non-offensive touchdowns in his career.
Joyner leads the No. 2 ranked Seminoles with five sacks and three forced fumbles, and also has 55 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and an interception. He has started 38 games in his career and is the veteran leader of the nation’s fifth-ranked defense, second-ranked scoring defense and passing defense. Joyner’s signature performance came at then-No. 3 Clemson on Oct. 19 when he had eight solo tackles, one sack, an interception and forced two fumbles in the 51-14 Seminole victory. Like Dennard, Joyner is a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy.