Thorpe Semis List Two Tide DBs

This is probably not a great week to ask Alabama Coach Nick Saban about his players being in the running for individual awards, but it wouldn't come as a great surprise if Saban brought it up. The Crimson Tide coach seems to relish players in the team sport of football being recognized for their individual excellence.

In that case, Alabama Coach Nick Saban should be in a good mood on a regular basis, because Bama players are frequently mentioned for almost every individual award in football.

This week the emphasis around the athletics department in Tuscaloosa is on Saturday's game, in which Bama -- ranked number two in the nation -- will host top-ranked LSU at 7 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game between the teams that are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

Among those expected to play a big role in the game are two Alabama defensive backs, senior safety Mark Barron and junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Those two were among 15 players nationwide selected as semifinalists for the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award, the organization announced Monday. The award is given annually to the top defensive back in college football.

The semifinalist selection marks the second year in a row that Barron has been recognized. The Mobile native leads a Crimson Tide defense that ranks atop the country in nearly every category. Alabama enters the week leading the nation in rushing defense (44.8 yards per game), pass efficiency defense (83.63), total defense (180.5 yards per game), scoring defense (6.9 points per game) and ranks second in pass defense (135.6 yards per game).

Barron ranks second on the team with 40 tackles, pacing the squad with 27 solo stops. The 6-2 safety has added 3.5 tackles for a loss, one interception, broken up five passes and recovered a fumble.

Kirkpatrick has built a reputation as one of the more physical cover corners in the country, turning in 19 tackles with 18 unassisted. The Gadsden native has added two tackles for a loss, broken up eight passes and forced two fumbles.

The Thorpe Award, one of the most coveted awards in college football is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2011. This Award, established in 1986, 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.

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