4 Canes Named to Thorpe List

All four returning starters to the Miami Hurricanes defensive secondary - safeties Mo Sikes and Sean Taylor, and cornerbacks Kelly Jennings and Antrel Rolle - have been named to the 2003 Jim Thorpe Award's preseason watch list as the nation's top defensive back released recently by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City.

The Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation's best college defensive back, is one of college football's most prestigious awards. It is named for the man considered by many to be history's greatest all-around athlete, who also was a standout football player as a running back, passer and kicker on offense, and an excellent defensive back. Thorpe, who is a charter member of the NFL's Hall of Fame, also played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.

The watch list, which is not a final determination of candidates for the honor, will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists on November 3 and to three finalists on November 24. The winner will be announced on ESPN' College Football Awards Show, telecast from Disney World on December 11. The official presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on February 9, 2004

The watch list is derived through a points system based on All-America teams and Honorable Mentions published in at least six pre-season football magazines. A candidate must be listed as high as a third-team All-American in at least one publication or as a fourth team or honorable mention in at least three of these publications. Players not on the list who have exceptional seasons may be added at a later date.

The four Hurricanes were first-year starters in 2002, but were primary factors in leading a pass defense that tied the NCAA record for fewest yards per pass completion (9.5 ypc) while helping the Miami defense lead the nation in passing defense (119.7 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (83.91 rating).

Jennings overcame a thumb injury that required him to play with his left hand in a cast virtually the entire 2002 season. He had 25 tackles, broke up six passes, and had one interception. Rolle was a first-team All-BIG EAST Conference selection in 2002 while making 66 tackles with two quarterback sacks, broke up seven passes, intercepted one pass, and recovered three fumbles. Despite playing much of the season with a separated shoulder, Sikes became a team leader in 2002 by making 68 tackles, breaking up nine passes and intercepting three passes (returning two for touchdowns), in addition to blocking a kick. Sikes was named a preseason first-team All-American by Street & Smith's magazine this summer. Taylor was a first-team All-BIG EAST Conference selection in 2002 while placing third on the team in tackles (85), breaking up 15 passes, intercepting a team-best four passes, and blocking a punt plus returning a punt for a touchdown. He is a consensus preseason All-America by several publications.

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