The best defensive backs in college football: The 2013 Thorpe list

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

The preseason watch list for the nation's best ballhawks is out.

The Jim Thorpe Association has announced its preseason watch list for the Thorpe Award, which is meant to be given to college football's best defensive back each year.

Kenneth Acker, Southern Methodist (CB), Sr.
Ricardo Allen, Purdue (CB), Sr.
Dion Bailey, Southern California (S), Sr.
C.J. Barnett, Ohio State (S), Sr.
Bene Benwikere, San Jose State (S), Sr.
Nat Berhe, San Diego State (S), Sr.
Tre Boston, North Carolina (S), Sr.
Christian Bryant, Ohio State (S), Sr.
Deone Bucannon, Washington State (S), Sr.
Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee State (S), So.
Carrington Byndom, Texas (CB), Sr.
Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern (S), Jr.
Sam Carter, Texas Christian (S), Jr.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (S), Jr.
Ross Cockrell, Duke (CB), Sr.
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (S), Sr.
Alden Darby, Arizona State (S), Sr.
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (CB), Sr.
Quandre Diggs, Texas (CB), Jr.
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (S), Sr.
Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky (S), Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (CB), Jr.
Ciante Evans, Nebraska (CB), Sr.
Antone Exum, Virginia Tech (CB), Sr.
Phillip Gaines, Rice (CB), Sr.
Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (S), Sr.
Najja Johnson, Buffalo (S), Sr.
L. J. Jones, Fresno State (S), Sr.
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (CB), Sr.
Isaiah Lewis , Michigan State (S), Sr.
Craig Loston, Louisiana State (S), Sr.
Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State (S), Sr.
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon (S), Jr.
Marco Nelson, Tulsa (S), Sr.
Isaiah Newsome, Louisiana at Monroe (S), Sr.
Dayonne Nunley, Miami, OH (CB), Sr.
Calvin Pryor, Louisville (S), Jr.
Ed Reynolds, Stanford (S), Sr.
Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State (CB), Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford (S), Jr.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State (CB), Jr.
Derron Smith, Fresno State (S), Jr.
Hakeem Smith, Louisville (S), Sr.
Damian Swann, Georgia (CB), Jr.
Jason Verrett Texas Christian (CB), Sr.
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (S), Sr.
Deron Wilson, Southern Mississippi (S), Sr.
Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State (S), Sr.

By Conference: Big 12 (8); Big Ten (8); Pac-12 (8); SEC (4); ACC (4); MW (5), C-USA (4); MAC (3); AAC (3); SBC (2); Big East (1)

Who are the favorites? We'll go with the first-teamers on SB Nation's All-America team: Ohio State's Bradley Roby, Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Stanford's Ed Reynolds.

Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks won the award in 2012, marking the fourth consecutive year it went to a player from the SEC. LSU had back-to-back winners with Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson in 2011 and 2010, respectively, and Tennessee's Eric Berry was given the honor in 2009.

Oklahoma leads all schools with three winners: Derrick Strait in 2003, Roy Williams in 2001 and Rickey Dixon in 1987. Six schools -- Arizona, Colorado, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and Texas -- can claim two winners.

Last season, Banks had four interceptions, 11 passes defended and seven passes broken up for the Bulldogs, and he added 63 tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the second round of April's NFL Draft with the 43rd overall pick.

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Projecting every 2013 college football conference race

Simulating 2013 10 times in NCAA Football 14

Tons of top recruit interviews from SB Nation at The Opening

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