Barron Noticed On National Stage

Almost every report of 2010 Alabama football has concentrated on the wealth of talent on offense for the Crimson Tide, but how the defense must be rebuilt. After all the deserved accolades for the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, discussion of the defense centers on the return of linebacker Dont'a Hightower following his injury.

At this year's Southeastern Conference Media Days, Alabama was the overwhelming choice to repeat at SEC football champion and the Crimson Tide led the way in pre-season all-conference selections. The only negative was that Mark Ingram was not unanimous, receiving only 165 of the 177 votes.

Not mentioned at all was another apparent brain lapse by the media. Mark Barron, upcoming junior safety for the Tide, seems to get more praise away from home than in the state and region. While Ingram was overlooked by 12 of 177 voters, Barron—who led the SEC in interceptions and was a third team All-America and first team All-SEC in his first year as a starter—received only 127 of the 177 votes. How could 50 so-called media members covering SEC athletics fail to vote for Barron?

He ranked eighth nationally and first in the SEC with seven interceptions (.50 per game). He was also sixth nationally and first in the SEC in passes defended with 18 (1.29 per game). Barron was second on the team (to Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain) with 76 total tackles and his 125 interception return yards tied for the fifth most in a single season in school history. He was third on the team 11 pass breakups.

On the second play of the South Carolina game, Barron intercepted the Gamecocks' Stephen Garcia and returned the pick 77 yards for a touchdown in a 20-6 victory.

He has not been overlooked on the national stage.

Barron was named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award pre-season watch list on Monday. The Thorpe Award is presented annually to the top defensive back in college football.

Barron is one of 35 players nationally and one of six SEC defensive backs named to the initial list for the Thorpe Award. Other SEC players named to the preseason list include Georgia's Brandon Boykin, South Carolina's Stephen Gilmore, Florida's Will Hill and Janoris Jenkins and LSU's Patrick Peterson.

Barron is the Crimson Tide's only returning starter in the secondary. He has played in 28 career games over the last two seasons and has logged 94 tackles. He is Alabama's third consecutive preseason Thorpe Award candidate, joining Rashad Johnson (2008) and Javier Arenas (2009).

The Jim Thorpe Award watch list is determined by analysis of the preseason All-America teams listed in at least six preseason college football annual magazines. Four points are awarded for first team, three points for second team, two points for third and one point for honorable mentions. This procedure determines approximately 30-40 players on the preseason watch list.

The semifinalists are announced in November and the winner is presented at the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show in Orlando in December. The formal presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award takes place in Oklahoma City in February, 2011.

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