After a breakout season in 2013, Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas already had high expectations heading into the 2014 season. Those expectations continue to grow. After being named to the Bednarik Award watch list for the nation’s top defensive player, Lucas has now landed on the 39-member watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back.
Lucas had a fantastic campaign last year, starting in all 12 games. He finished third on the team with 64 total tackles. His 45 solo tackles was the best on the team. He also had a sack, two forced fumbles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions and led the defense with 13 pass breakups.
His season earned him an honorable All-Big Ten mention.
This year, Lucas will be expected to be a leader of the defense in an experienced and much-improved secondary.
The Jim Thorpe Award was first given in 1986 and is named after arguably the greatest all-around athlete in history. Thorpe was an excellent football player at several different positions, played baseball professionally and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Recent Nittany Lion semifinalists for the award include: David Macklin (1999), James Boyd (2000) and Alan Zemaitis (2005). The last Nittany Lion to be named to the preseason watch list was Justin King in 2007.
Players can be added to the watch list throughout the season. The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award will be selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 11, 2014 on ESPN.
Currently, Penn State has five players named to preseason watch lists. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg in on the Maxwell Award list, offensive tackle Donovan Smith is on the list for the Outland Trophy and tight ends Jesse James and Kyle Carter are up for the Mackey Award.