The Jim Thorpe Association and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame released the finalists for the 2023 Jim Thorpe Award. The award recognizes the three best defensive backs in the country based on on-field performance, athletic ability, and character.
Jim Thorpe Award Finalists
Cooper DeJean, Cornerback, Iowa
A lockdown corner and returner for the Iowa Hawkeyes, DeJean has been an important player in Iowa’s defensive dominance this season. DeJean suffered a leg injury a few weeks ago, but his performance was so dominant when on the field he deserved a nomination.
Through Week Ten, DeJean had 41 total tackles, two interceptions, and five pass breakups and posted a 40.6 quarterback rating when targeted.
Malaki Starks, Safety, Georgia
A key cog in the Georgia Bulldogs‘ defensive dominance, the sophomore safety has put together another excellent season for the Bulldogs. Last year, the First-Team All-Freshman was named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to college football’s best defensive player.
On the season, Starks has 43 total tackles, two interceptions, and six pass breakups.
Trey Taylor, Safety, Air Force
A second-team All-MWC player last year, Trey Taylor followed up his 2022 season with another excellent 2023, helping lead the Air Force Falcons‘ defense to 13th in passing yards allowed and finish 8-3 on the season.
Taylor finished the 2023 season with 71 total tackles, three interceptions (one pick-six), and four pass breakups. Taylor posted a 46.0 quarterback rating when targeted.
When Will the Jim Thorpe Award Be Announced?
The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award will be announced on ESPN’s live Home Depot College Football Awards show on December 8. The finalists will now be invited to Disney’s Wide World of Sports where the event is set to take place.
During the annual year-end award ceremony, the Thorpe Award will be just one of a handful of prestigious awards handed out on December 8, including the Doak Walker, Biletnikoff, Maxwell, Outland, and many others.