Two of LSU’s defensive stars are finalists for national awards.
Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne made the cut for a third national award Monday, the Jim Thorpe Award.
Claiborne is joined on the list of Thorpe Award finalists by Mark Barron of Alabama and David Amerson of North Carolina State.
The Thorpe Award is presented annually to the top defensive back in college football. Last year, LSU’s Patrick Peterson’s claimed the Thorpe Award on his way to becoming one of the most decorated defenders in school history.
Last week, Claiborne was selected as one of five finalists for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the National Defensive Player of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
He’s also one of 15 semifinalists, of which just two are defenders, for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
Claiborne has been a key contributor for the top-ranked Tigers as he has 40 tackles and four interceptions for an LSU defense that ranks second in the nation in three categories – scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, and total defense. Claiborne also has five pass breakups, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry to his credit.
Sophomore Tyrann Mathieu is one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award, which recognizes the best defensive player in the country. He was joined by Dont’a Hightower from Alabama and Penn State’s Devon Still.
In 10 games, Mathieu ranks second on the team with 58 tackles to go with 5½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks. He also has two interceptions, seven pass breakups, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in a 35-7 win over Kentucky earlier this year. Against Oregon in the season-opener he recorded 10 tackles and returned a fumble 3 yards for a touchdown in the 40-27 LSU victory.
Brooks, Blackwell honored by SEC
Brooks shared SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors along with Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan, while Blackwell was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
In the lopsided win at Ole Miss, Brooks recorded 4 tackles, a sack for an 11-yard loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a 46-yard interception return for a TD.
Blackwell led LSU with nine knockdown blocks as the Tigers rolled up a season-best 353 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. LSU didn’t allow a sack against Ole Miss as the Tigers racked up 458 total yards and a season-high 52 points.