The 2016 season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start previewing players who could be in the discussion for college football’s most prestigious awards when the season is all said and done.
The preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation’s best defensive back) was revealed on Monday and a handful of Big Ten players made the list.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten players who were named to the Thorpe Award watch list, along with a preview of what to expect from them this season. All four of these defensive backs were also named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list.
Nate Gerry, safety, Nebraska: Gerry is one of the more versatile defensive backs in the country and recorded 79 tackles, four interceptions and one sack last season. He’s one of the top safeties in the Big Ten and he could be in the running for a spot on the first-team All-Big Ten as a senior.
Desmond King, cornerback, Iowa: Last year’s Jim Thorpe Award winner enters the 2016 season as quite possibly the favorite to win the honor again. King is one of the best cornerbacks in the country and recorded 72 tackles, picked off eight passes and broke up another 13 throws last season.
Jourdan Lewis, cornerback, Michigan: Lewis is a lockdown cornerback whom opponents better be careful when targeting. Lewis broke up 20 passes last season with two interceptions. He should give King a run for his money as the conference’s best cover corner.
William Likely, cornerback, Maryland: Likely plays both sides of the ball, but is primarily a defender. He broke up 11 passes last season while recording 44 tackles and four tackles for loss. Likely is one of the most intriguing players in the conference.