(July 13, 2012) -- Texas Longhorns senior S Kenny Vaccaro has been named to the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list, the Jim Thorpe Association announced today. The Thorpe Award is presented annually to the best defensive back in college football.
The Thorpe Award is named after history’s greatest athlete, Jim Thorpe, and is presented by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City. Thorpe excelled at every sport in which he competed, including football where he played on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The 2012 Olympic Games mark the 100-year anniversary of Thorpe winning gold in the decathlon and pentathlon at the Stockholm Olympics.
Vaccaro is a fourth-year defensive back who has appeared in 38 games with 19 career starts. He was chosen to the All-Big 12 first team (Coaches), second team (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and honorable mention (AP) in 2011 and was honorable mention for Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches). Vaccaro has posted 157 tackles (102 solos), two interceptions, 12 TFL, two sacks, two forced fumbles and 16 PBU for his career and has also registered 14 tackles (10 solo) and two blocked kicks on special teams. He appeared in all 13 games at safety, starting 11, while registering 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and seven pressures in 2011.
This preseason, Vaccaro was also named to the 2012 Bednarik Award watch list (college defensive player of the year) along with teammates Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat and to the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list (most outstanding defensive player) along with Okafor, Jeffcoat and fellow defensive back Carrington Byndom.
Texas has had two winners of the Thorpe Award in its history in S Michael Huff and CB Aaron Ross, who won back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, respectively. UT has also had two other finalists; S Earl Thomas in 2009 and CB Quentin Jammer in 2001, and two other semifinalists; CB Nathan Vasher in 2003 and CB Rod Babers in 2002.
Vaccaro joins 35 other student-athletes in 11 conferences who are vying for this season’s Thorpe Award. The Jim Thorpe Award watch list is chosen by a screening committee, but the list is not final as players who are having outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.
The Thorpe Award winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on December 6, 2012 on ESPN.