Louisville safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith were tabbed to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List for the nation’s top defensive backs, the group announced on Friday.
A two-year starter at safety, Pryor has emerged as one of the top safeties in the country. A second team All-BIG EAST award winner last season, Pryor was second on the Cardinals in tackles with a career-high 100 in 13 starts. He forced a team-best five fumbles, which ranked seventh nationally, and recorded seven games with eight or more tackles, including a career-high 11 in a triple-overtime loss to Connecticut.
Pryor, a junior, has also been selected to the Bednarik Watch List earlier this week.
One of the more decorated players on the team, Smith has been named to his third different watch list during the preseason, also being named to the Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski lists.
Smith, a fifth-year senior, is vying to become just the second Louisville football player to garner all-conference honors for four-straight seasons. A second-team honoree last season, Smith finished third on the squad with 73 tackles, but has been a mainstay in the secondary with 38 career starts and owns a string of 37 straight.
The Jim Thorpe Award is one of the most coveted awards in college football. The award was established in 1986 and 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 Jim Thorpe Award watch list is chosen by a screening committee who compile a list of 30-50 players. The list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses. The Thorpe Award Winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 12, 2013 on ESPN.
The Jim Thorpe Award Banquet will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 in Oklahoma City, OK.