Texas has had a finalist and semifinalist the past two seasons. CB Quentin Jammer, a 2002 first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, became Texas' first-ever finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2001. CB Rod Babers, a fourth-round pick of the New York Giants, was a semifinalist in 2002.
With 25 career starts, Vasher ranks among UTs all-time top 10 with 11 interceptions (T-No. 8) and 38 pass breakups (No. 7). He has also tallied 112 tackles (85 solo) and nine tackles for loss during 34 career games. Vasher tied the school record for single-season interceptions (7) as a sophomore before battling injuries in 2002, Vasher posted four interceptions and 15 pass breakups and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors during his junior campaign.
Named Texas Most Consistent Defensive Player last season, Pearson has posted 147 tackles (89 solo), nine interceptions and 20 PBUs in 36 career games (24 starts). He was credited with 62 tackles, 13 PBUs and a team-high six interceptions (T-No. 6 on the UT all-time single-season list) last season. Pearson earned Freshman All-American honors after recording 47 stops, three interceptions and five PBUs as a redshirt freshman in 2000.
Pearson and Vasher are joined by fellow Big 12 candidates senior CB Derrick Strait and senior S Brandon Everage of Oklahoma, senior S Medford Moorer of Colorado and Texas Tech junior S Ryan Aycock. Kansas State CB Terence Newman won last year's Award.
The watch list is derived through a point system based on All-American teams and Honorable Mentions published in at least six pre-season football magazines. A candidate must be listed as high as 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 later.