Davis, an All-Big Ten performer and Thorpe Award semifinalist in 2007, was Illinois' fourth-leading tackler with 76 stops, including a team leading 13 (all solos) against USC in the Rose Bowl. He was also sixth in the Big Ten in interceptions and passes defended, with four and eight, respectively. Other Davis highlights from a year ago included a 63-yard kickoff return vs. Michigan and a blocked punt that resulted in Illinois' first touchdown of the season against Missouri.
The Jim Thorpe Award "watch list" is determined by analysis of the pre-season All-American teams listed in at least six pre-season college football annual magazines. Four points are awarded for First Team, three points for second team, two points for third and one point for fourth teams and honorable mentions. This procedure determines approximately 40 players on the pre-season watch list. This list is not final and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.
A "Screening Committee" of Jim Thorpe Association members follows these players throughout the season, watching games and researching information sources to grade Thorpe Award candidates on the basis of performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The committee meets on the first Monday in November to narrow the field to 10 or 12 semi-finalists.
The committee meets again on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select the three finalists. The names of these finalists are submitted to a national panel of about 50 sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner. The three finalists are invited to the ESPN College Football Awards Show, and the winner is announced during the show.
Formal presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award takes place at ceremonies in Oklahoma City on the first Tuesday in February following the national signing date for college football recruits.