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Alabama Lands Two Players on the Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists List

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Two of the 13 semifinalists wear Crimson and White.

Mississippi v Alabama
Levi Wallace returns an interception for a touchdown against the Ole Miss.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace have been named semifinalists of the Jim Thorpe Award for the top defensive back in college football. Amazingly, only one Alabama player, Antonio Langham in 1993, has received this award given out since 1986.

It is the tale of two defensive backs for Alabama. Fitzpatrick was a five-star recruit who has been a star from the beginning of his tenure at the Capstone. He is again an All-American candidate after being named first-team All-American in 2016. The junior safety has 22 solo tackles and 13 assists. He has notched one interception, four pass break-ups, one sack, 5 TFL, two QB hurries, and a forced fumble. He also blocked field goal against FSU.

On the other end of the spectrum comes unrecruited walk-on Wallace who toiled on the scout teams for two years until being awarded a scholarship during fall camp in 2016. He became an intricate part of that team, playing in 11 contests adding depth in the Tide secondary and on special teams.

In the first game of 2017, he came off the bench against FSU and merely became the Crimson Tide defensive player of the week. He has firmly secured the corner spot opposite Anthony Averett. The senior has 12 solos, 11 assists, 2 sacks and 4.5 TFL on the season. He is tied with Mack Wilson for the team lead in interceptions with three, one which was returned for a touchdown against Ole Miss. He leads the pass break-up category by a wide margin at nine. He also has a QB hurry.

The Crimson Tide leads the nation in Total Defense yielding 236.0 ypg and are giving up only 9.8 points per game through eight contests.

2017 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

  • Marcus Allen, Penn State
  • Quin Blanding, Virginia
  • Jalen Davis, Utah State
  • DeShon Elliott, Texas
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
  • Grant Haley, Penn State
  • Derwin James, Florida State
  • Jeremy McDuffie, Duke
  • Parry Nickerson, Tulane
  • Justin Reid, Stanford
  • Dominick Sanders, Georgia
  • Levi Wallace, Alabama
  • Denzel Ward, Ohio State