July 12, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The Jim Thorpe Award 2013 watch list was announced on Friday and Fresno State's L.J. Jones and Derron Smith both landed a spot on the 48-man list for the award that is given to the nation's best defensive back.
After former Bulldog safety Phillip Thomas was a finalist for the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, Fresno State is one of eight schools nationally that had multiple players on this seasons watch list.
The preseason recognition for both Jones and Smith is well deserved, as the duo were key components of the 2012 Bulldog secondary that ranked second nationally in pass defense. Fresno State only allowed 167.2 yards per game through the air last season and also ranked No. 3 nationally in interceptions (22), No. 4 in pass efficiency defense (100.75) and No. 5 in opponent completion percentage (.514).
For Smith, a junior free safety, this is his fourth preseason watch list that he has been named to. He is also on the CFPA Defensive Back Trophy watch list, the Lott IMPACT Trophy list and is up for the Bednarik Award, which is presented to the college defensive player of the year.
Smith picked off six passes in 2012 to tie for the fifth-most among all FBS players. He also was second on the team with 79 tackles last season when he earned first-team All-Mountain West accolades.
The cornerback Jones was an honorable mention All-Mountain West selection in 2012 when he recorded a team-high 13 pass breakups and had one interception. Jones had 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. He enters his senior season having started in 28 consecutive games.
Fresno State reports for fall camp on Aug. 1, which is just 20 days away, and hosts Rutgers on Aug. 29 in its season opener.
The Thorpe Award winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 12 on ESPN.
"Discover Fresno State Football" - 2013 Fresno State football season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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