Berry On Thorpe Watch List

Pitt senior cornerback Aaron Berry has been named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason "watch list,'' which includes 31 of the nation's best defensive backs as candidates for the prestigious award.

Aaron Berry, a third-year starter for Pittsburgh, was named to the 2008 All-Big East team as he compiled 41 tackles, one sack and three interceptions on the season. Berry looks to exceed that production in his final season.

"Sure, I want this to be my biggest year, yet,'' Berry said. "We all have the picture in our lockers of Cincinnati celebrating winning the River City Rivalry and the Big East, so we want that trophy back. Anything less than a Big East title won't cut it for us seniors this year.''

The Thorpe Award is one of college football's most sought after and prestigious awards. Recognized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply as "The Legend,'' Jim Thorpe also played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon. He is considered to be the best athlete ever.

The Panthers open summer training camp Tuesday at their practice facility and kick off the 2009 season Saturday, Sept. 5, against Youngstown State at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

The USA Today coaches' poll was released Friday afternoon, and there were no Big East Conference teams in the Top 25. Florida garnered 53 first-place votes to lead the way. The next three teams each received first-place votes, as No. 2 Texas had four top votes, while No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 USC had one each.

The Big East ruled "others receiving votes,'' as Cincinnati was 29th, and Pitt was 30th. West Virginia and Rutgers were next, while South Florida was 37th.

The Associated Press writers' poll will be released Aug. 22.

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