Dennard racks up All-American honors, awards

Senior becomes MSU's first consensus All-American cornerback, Jim Thorpe award winner. He talks about those honors and how the legacy of strong secondary play was continued with him -- and where it goes now.

While most of his teammates had the chance to go home following Michigan State's Big Ten title win, Darqueze Dennard was bouncing around award ceremony to award ceremony.

The senior cornerback first went to South Carolina for the Nagurski Award ceremony then to Florida for the Jim Thorpe Award, which Dennard won as the nation's top defensive back.

"It was definitely fun," he said. "It was definitely high after the championship game and not only after winning it but I got to travel a little bit and go to some places I've never been before, see some guys I've watched on TV and admire their games and like how they play the game as well. It's a great experience overall."

Dennard became the first Spartan to win the Thorpe Award, which he added to being honored as the Big Ten's top defensive back with the Woodson-Tatum Award.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "Got a lot of text messages and calls from like Johnny (Adams), Trenton (Robinson) and a couple more guys that played in the secondary with me."

The Dry Branch, Ga. Native also has continued to rack up All-American honors and became another first for MSU: A consensus All-American cornerback.

"It's a blessing and I just thank God every day for allowing me to be in this place," he said. "At the same time, I wouldn't be the player I am without my coaches. I wouldn't be the player I am without my teammates and those guys, we all accomplished a lot of things this year."

Dennard is just the latest defensive back in recent years to rack up honors as Isaiah Lewis, Kurtis Drummond, Johnny Adams, Trenton Robinson, Chris L Rucker and Marcus Hyde all have been honored as All-Big Ten player since 2010.

He said his accomplishments speak to a legacy of secondary play.

"We will continue to have that with the coaching staff that we have and Coach Barnett doing his thing, he's a great coach," Dennard said. "He finds ways to motivate you as well and make you a better player and a better person. … It started with C.L. (Rucker), (Travis) Key, Otis Wiley a while back when Coach B was actually coaching those guys and it continues to roll on past me."

In fact, the only starting defensive back since the 2010 season to not earn all-conference honors is the player Dennard says will be the best to play at Michigan State.

"I think it's not just going to stop with me," he said. "(Trae Waynes) is up next at corner and he's going to take the ball. To be honest, I think he's going to be the best cornerback that's ever played here."

As he prepares for his final game in the green and white, an NFL future lies ahead. While he isn't focused on that yet, Dennard soon will begin traveling around the country again.

"I really haven't thought about it right now," he said. "I'm sure it's going to be very exciting and I'll meet some more guys that I've never met before. Just the experiences, it's once in a lifetime.

"I'm truly honored and I'm blessed to even be able to do this and I'm looking forward to it."

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