4 Good Bets For 2022 Jim Thorpe Award
The Jim Thorpe Award is given to the best defensive back in the Football Bowl Subdivision at the end of every college football regular season. As the summer continues, players are making the various “watch lists” for the many awards handed out in December. The Thorpe Award watch list is out. These four men were part of that 35-player watch list. They have a really good chance of rising to the top of the pack and coming away with a piece of hardware at season’s end.
Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame
A high-profile player at Notre Dame is naturally going to have a better chance than most to win any end-of-season award, since the Fighting Irish are on national television every week and are easiest to see for the people who vote on the awards. The other point about Notre Dame, in addition to being very visible on television, is that if the Irish make a run at the College Football Playoff and are a significant player in the push for a national championship, their top players will get serious consideration – top-line consideration – in the pursuit of various awards and many forms of postseason recognition. Brandon Joseph will go up against USC’s passing game and a Lincoln Riley-coached offense in the final game of the regular season. That game will be on national television, and it could have very high playoff stakes for both teams. If Joseph plays well in that game and Notre Dame wins, it could be a kind of tiebreaker in a close awards contest.
Andrew Mukuba, Clemson
The Clemson Tigers will need their defense to be great in 2022, just as they needed the defense to be great in 2021. Clemson won 10 games last year, which is not what the Tigers hope to achieve – they hope to win at least 12 games each season if not more – but the team would have been far worse (maybe only eight or nine wins) if the defense didn’t play extremely well. This year, the Tigers will need Andrew Mukuba to be an outstanding anchor of their secondary. If Mukuba can lift Clemson back to the ACC championship, which the Tigers failed to win a year ago, that bounce-back reality could catapult Mukuba to the top of the Thorpe Award.
Christopher Smith, Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs will be in the thick of the national championship chase once again. Chris Smith made some high-impact plays for the Dawgs last year. If he makes more high-impact plays this year, there is no doubt that he will be a Thorpe Award finalist with a chance to take home the trophy. Georgia will elevate Smith’s place in this particular awards competition.
Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
When a defensive back gets to play against Ohio State, he is going up against the best receivers in the country. Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is probably the favorite for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out to the best receiver in the United States. If Ji’Ayir Brown can contain Smith-Njigba and the Ohio State passing game when Penn State plays Ohio State, that could be the big statement which enables Brown to push past his competitors and win the Thorpe Award.