Two Gators Land on Thorpe Award Watch List

The Gators know their secondary will be in good hands when they have two players on the preseason watch list for the Thorpe Award. It gets even more optimistic when the member of the secondary with the most productive career isn't one of the two.

Safety Will Hill and cornerback Janoris Jenkins were among the 35 defensive backs recognized by the Jim Thorpe Association as the best in college football. Not among the group was safety Ahmad Black, who has had a more productive career than both Jenkins and Hill.

Jenkins heads into his third season as a starter in as many years on campus. He tore onto the scene as a freshman that started for the Gators, who eventually won the national championship that season. Jenkins and Joe Haden, who was one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award in 2009, gave Florida one of the most dynamic cornerback tandems in college football over the last two seasons.

The junior has 18 pass deflections and five interceptions in his first two seasons. He was recently named Preseason All-SEC first team by the conference coaches and second team by the media.

Hill only started five games for the Gators last season because of a three-man rotation at safety. Major Wright and Black got a majority of the starts. Hill came to campus as the blue chip member of his class, but there have been some inconsistencies in his game.

Named to the watch list for the Thorpe Award is more based on his potential. Hill has two interceptions in his career, both coming in 2008 as a freshman. He has speed to be a safety that can change the offensive game plan in the passing game. He just needs to be more consistent and show the ability. Hill is also a key component of the special teams, as he finished the season with 13 tackles in kickoff and punt coverage.

The SEC put six players on the watch list, while the Gators were the only team with multiple players. Alabama safety Mark Barron, Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson were the other four members who made it.

The ACC and Big 12 conferences also had six selections. The Big Ten had three, two coming from Ohio State. The Pac-10 had two.

The field will be narrowed to 10 or 12 on the first Monday in November. It is narrowed to three finalists on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The winner is announced during the ESPN College Football Awards Show.
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