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Thirteen of the nation’s best college football defensive backs were announced today as finalists for the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award.

The award, named after Oklahoma born Native American sports legend Jim Thorpe, is presented annually to the defensive back who best exhibits performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The semifinalist list will be narrowed to three finalists on Monday, November 24, and the winner will be announced on the ESPNU College Football Awards Show, broadcast nationally on Thursday, December 11. Formal presentation will be at a banquet in Oklahoma City, Monday, February 11, 2009.

The 2008 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists:
Asher Allen, Jr., Georgia
Eric Berry, So., Tennessee
Emanuel Cook, Jr., So. Carolina
Vontae Davis, Jr., Illinois
Trimane Goddard, Sr., N. Carolina
Malcolm Jenkins, Sr., Ohio State
Trevard Lindley, Jr., Kentucky
Taylor Mays, Jr., USC
Mike Mickens, Sr., Cincinnati
D. J. Moore, Jr., Vanderbilt
William Moore, Sr., Missouri
Alphonso Smith, Sr., Wake Forest
Otis Wiley, Sr., Michigan State

The first Jim Thorpe Award was presented in 1986 to Thomas Everett, Baylor, and last year’s trophy went to Antoine Cason, Arizona.

Jim Thorpe is generally considered history’s greatest all-around athlete, a man who excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on offense, but also an awesome defensive back. Recognized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply as “The Legend”, Thorpe also played professional baseball and won gold medals in the 1912 Olympics decathlon and pentathlon.

A Run for Office? 

Jim Tressel suggested Tuesday, Nov. 4, that if anyone on his team ever ran for public office, the ideal candidate might be cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins wasn’t even the unanimous choice of two of his teammates.

“He’s one of the greatest guys on the team that can really unify a lot of people,” safety Kurt Coleman (Northmont) said. “He’s a very convincing man, and he does everything with a lot of passion. If he were to run, a lot of people would really follow him because he’s a great guy and a great leader.”

Wide receiver Brian Robiskie was asked if he’d cast a ballot for Jenkins.

“No,” he said. Asked why, he added, “Too emotional.”

Coleman said he’d offer to be Jenkins’ running mate.

“I’ll take the VP spot,” he said with a laugh.

~ Rusty Miller, AP