ACC Has Five Selected to Jim Thorpe Preseason Watch List

Conference Ties for Second Highest Number of Defensive Backs Named to Thorpe Watch List

GREENSBORO, N.C.—The Atlantic Coast Conference had five defensive backs—which ties for the second highest total of any conference nationally—named to the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the top defensive back in the nation.

The total preseason watch list of 42 collegiate defensive backs was announced Monday by the Jim Thorpe Award.

Last year’s Thorpe Award winner hailed from the ACC in former Louisville safety Gerod Holliman, who tied the NCAA record for most interceptions in a season with 14 in 2014.

ACC student-athletes on the Thorpe Award watch list include Clemson sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla.), Duke senior safety Jeremy Cash (Miami, Fla.), Virginia sophomore safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va.), Virginia Tech junior cornerback Kendall Fuller (Baltimore, Md.) and Florida State junior cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Smyrna, Tenn.).
Cash, Fuller and Ramsey were all repeaters from the 2014 Thorpe Award Watch List. Cash and Fuller have been named first-team preseason All-Americans this year by Phil Steele, while Ramsey was named a second-team All-American by Steele but a first-team pick by Athlon Sports. Blanding was the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, and Alexander was a key starter on the nation’s top defensive unit in 2014. Both Blanding and Alexander are third-team preseason All-Americans by Athlon.

Fuller is actually the second member of his family to be named to the Thorpe Watch list. Older brother Kyle Fuller earned the honor in 2012.

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 which compiles 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 10, 2015 on ESPN. 

The Jim Thorpe Award Banquet will be held on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Okla. 

The ACC members of the 2015 preseason Jim Thorpe Watch List are:

Player                                 School             Pos.     Ht. Wt.         Cl.         Hometown
Mackensie  Alexander         Clemson             CB     5-10 190         So.-R Immokalee, Fla.
Quin Blanding                 Virginia             S             6-4 215         So.         Virginia Beach, Va.
Jeremy Cash                         Duke             S             6-2 205         Sr.-R Miami, Fla.
Kendall Fuller                 Virginia Tech     CB     6-0 190         Jr.         Baltimore, Md.
Jalen Ramsey                     Florida State     CB     6-1 191         Jr.         Smyrna, Tenn.