Vasher Added To Thorpe Award Semifinalists List

CB <B>Nathan Vasher </B>has been added to the list of semifinalists for the Thorpe Award honoring the nation's top defensive back, it was announced Monday. Inexplicably snubbed when the cut was announced last week, the senior increases the number of semifinalists for to 13.

Texas sports publicists commended the Thorpe Award selection committee for its better-late-than-never inclusion of Vasher, but you can bet that UT athletic officials gave the panelists an earful after Vasher failed to make the cut last week. Just before the revision was announced, head coach Mack Brown expressed his displeasure that Vasher was not mentioned among the nation’s best.

"I thought it was really poor that he wasn’t on the Thorpe Award list," Brown said. "I think that’s wrong. The guy’s the leading punt returner in Texas history and close to the leading interceptor and he’s one off the best players in the country. Whoever chose those (finalists) made a mistake. And I thought he showed that on Saturday."

Vasher turned in one of the best performances of his career in Texas' 55-16 win at Oklahoma State. Vasher faced Biletnikoff Award semifinalist and the Big 12's leading receiver Rashaun Woods man-to-man the entire game and held him to four receptions for 43 yards. Woods entered the game averaging 104.2 yards (4th NCAA) per game. He did not catch a pass in the second half.

"You can’t take Rashaun out of a ballgame but you can at least make everybody aware that you’ve got to be careful throwing it to him," Brown said. "That allowed us to put more pressure in other areas and we could play with ten guys on the rest of them. I thought that was a key for Saturday night."

Vasher posted four pass breakups, one tackle and intercepted a pass that set up Texas' first TD against the Cowboys.

"The attitude that Nathan took playing a great player and the confidence he showed during the week helped the attitude of our football team going into the game," Brown added.

With a Big 12 record 16 career interceptions, he needs one pick to tie UT's all-time interception mark of 17 that legendary Noble Doss set in1941.

Vasher leads Texas' secondary with 34 tackles, five tackles for loss, 18 pass breakups and ranks 20th nationally (4th Big 12) with five interceptions. A two-time second-team All-Big 12 performer, Vasher has 56 career pass breakups and is two shy of breaking Quentin Jammer's Longhorn all-time PBU mark set from 1997-2001. Vasher also has posted 146 tackles and 14 TFLs in 44 career games (35 starts).

The Longhorns currently rank fifth nationally in passing defense (152.5 ypg) and their 44.1% completion percentage allowed (100-of-227) is the second-lowest in the nation. But Vasher and company will face their toughest test of the season 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday with Texas Tech visiting DKR for a Fox Sports Net broadcast. The Red Raiders lead the nation in passing (508.7 ypg), total offense (612.9 ypg) and rank second in scoring (44.9 ppg). Quarterback B.J. Symons ranks first nationally in passing (474.1), completions (366) and TD passes (44).

The finalists for the 2003 Thorpe Award will be selected on Nov. 25. The winner will be announced on the 13th Annual Home Depot College Football Awards (ESPN live broadcast) from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. on Dec. 11.

Other Big 12 nominees making the cut are Nebraska safety Josh Bullocks, OU cornerback Derrick Strait and Oklahoma State CB Darrent Williams.

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