COLUMBUS, Ohio – Junior cornerback Jeff Okudah, whose play is a major reason why Ohio State is 7-0 and has the nation’s No. 2-ranked statistical defense, was today chosen as one of 14 semifinalists for the 2019 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded annually to the best defensive back in college football.
The award recipient is selected by the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award National Selection Committee, which boasts members of the NCFAA, an Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in-house award committee, former Paycom Jim Thorpe Award recipients, and sportswriters and college football journalists throughout the country.
The 2019 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presented by Gildan and broadcasted live on ESPN on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award commemorative banquet will be held in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Okudah, who is the only Big Ten player included on the list, has 17 tackles, three pass breakups and a team-high three interceptions this season. He’s been one of the brightest stars in a secondary that’s allowing just 136.3 yards per game passing, second fewest in the country.
A Grand Prairie, Texas native, Okudah made his first career interception in the fourth game of the season vs. Miami. A week later at Nebraska, he picked off two passes – including one while lying on his back – in a 48-7 win over the Cornhuskers. Okudah is currently second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally in interceptions.
Okudah is part of an Ohio State defense that’s allowed just three passing touchdowns this season – tied for the fewest in the country – and 20 total points over the last three games. The Buckeyes have allowed just 10 passes of 20 yards or more, which is tied with Clemson and Utah for second best in the country.