I am deeply saddened to report that the preseason watch list parade, like most employed Americans, is packing up for the weekend. But before it goes away for the next couple of days, it took a moment Friday to announce the preseason list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive back. Northwestern’s candidate – surprise, surprise – is junior safety Ibraheim Campbell. Some of the more notable Big Ten players named include Ohio State CB Bradley Robey, Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State S Isaiah Lewis and Ohio State S C.J. Barnett.
Recalling Campbell’s statistics and various distinctions is mostly superfluous information. The abbreviated version of Campbell’s candidacy goes a little something like this: really talented and really athletic safety who improved immensely in his second season as a starter, looked even better in spring practice and could make another sizeable leap in his third season next to first-year starter Traveon Henry.
The Thorpe Committee knows these things, but I can’t help but get the feeling that, now matter how well Campbell performs individually, if the Wildcats’ secondary falters in any measurable way, Campbell will be lumped in to the secondary’s general malaise nonetheless – which makes his chances in this award incredibly difficult to have a lot of confidence in. That said, if the Wildcats’ secondary improves collectively just as much as Campbell has on his own over the past two seasons, he could play his way into the final round of consideration.
That’s it for this week, folks. We’ll be back again (pending NU players’ nominations) for more watch list revealing before you know it.