Taylor Semi-finalist For Thorpe Award

University of Miami defensive junior safety Sean Taylor (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) is among 12 players listed as semi-finalists for the 2003 Jim Thorpe Award honoring college football's top defensive back, the Jim Thorpe Association announced Wednesday.

Through eight games, Taylor leads the BIG EAST Conference and ranks third nationally in interceptions per game (0.96) with six, a total that already ranks among the top 10 for interceptions in a season at Miami. He ranks second on the Hurricanes in total tackles with 53 (33 solos). He has produced a team-best 12 pass breakups this season along with 4.5 tackles for losses, one quarterback sack and one quarterback hurry.

Taylor also has been a force on special teams, having taken back two punts for a total of 65 yards (32.5 avg.) and returned three kickoffs for 86 yards (28.7 avg.), including a 68-yard return against Florida. Additionally, Taylor has returned interceptions for an average of 22.2 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown return at Boston College and a 50-yard scoring runback at Florida State. He has done all of this while playing the season's first six games with an injured shoulder that was surgically repaired in mid-October causing him to miss one game.

Taylor was recently rated college football's top player by ESPN The Magazine in a mid-season ranking, as he has become more than just a burgeoning star in the secondary. He also has solidified his standing as college football's finest defensive back through the first half of the 2003 season and is nothing less than a candidate for college football's highest honors. A gifted football player with a rare combination of size, speed, strength and agility, Taylor is a brutally hard hitter who also displays excellent skills as a coverage man and in run support. A standout in the tradition of former UM safeties Edward Reed and Bennie Blades, Taylor recently earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play against Florida State (Oct. 11).

A screening committee of the Jim Thorpe Association researches and follows the performances of defensive backs as they compete through the season. The committee determines the semi-finalists the first week in November and will select three finalists on Monday, November 25. A national panel of former coaches, players and sportswriters and sportscasters then votes to select the winner.

The 2003 Thorpe Award winner will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show to be held Thursday, December 11, 2003 in Orlando. The winner will be honored at a banquet in Oklahoma City scheduled for February 9, 2004.

The 12 members semi-finalists (in alphabetical order) for the 2003 Thorpe Award:

Jamaal Brimmer S Nevada-Las Vegas
Josh Bullocks S Nebraska
James Butler S Georgia Tech
Jason David CB Washington State
DeAngelo Hall CB Virginia Tech
Keiwan Ratliff CB Florida
Stuart Schweigert S Purdue
Derrick Strait CB Oklahoma
Sean Taylor FS Miami
Mark Walker S TCU
Corey Webster CB LSU
Darrent Williams CB Oklahoma State

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