A senior tri-captain, Alan Zemaitis is one of four Big Ten student-athletes on the 36-player list.
One of the nation's top cover corners, Zemaitis previously had been named to the watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's top defensive player. He has earned second team All-Big Ten honors the past two years.
Zemaitis was an integral members of Penn State's nationally ranked defense last season and will be expected to provide leadership for a unit that returns nine starters and welcomes back safety Chris Harrell, a starter in 2003.
In 2004, Penn State was the only team in the nation to not allow more than 21 points in a game, as the defense allowed just 14 touchdowns in 11 contests (1.27 avg.). The Nittany Lions were ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (5th, 15.3 ppg), pass defense (6th, 162.3 ypg) and total defense (10th, 291.5 ypg), leading the Big Ten in scoring and pass defense and ranking second in total defense.
Zemaitis is a two-year starter and last season made 47 tackles (35 solo), with one TFL, two interceptions and six pass break-ups. The former Central HS standout made three solo hits, had a pass break-up and an interception inside the PSU 10 in last year's win at Indiana and helped stop IU on first-and-goal from the PSU 1 in the last two minutes.
A journalism major who is on schedule to graduate in December, Zemaitis broke Penn State and Big Ten records in 2003 with his 207 interception return yards on four picks. He led the Big Ten and was among the national leaders with 18 passes defended. He tied for fourth in the conference with his four interceptions.
The pre-season watch list of Thorpe Award candidates will be researched and analyzed by the Jim Thorpe Association Screening Committee throughout the season. The screening committee will announce 10 semifinalists the first week in November and then name the three finalists on Nov. 21. The names of the three finalists will be submitted to the Jim Thorpe Award's National Selection Committee to determine the winner. All three finalists will be invited to ESPN's College Football Awards Show, December 8, in Orlando, Fla. The winner will be announced during the show with the formal award presentation taking place in Oklahoma City, Okla. on February 7, 2006.
Former Nittany Lion David Macklin was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award in 1999 and James Boyd was a semifinalist in 2000.