Oklahoma City–LSU Junior cornerback, Morris Claiborne, has been named the 2011 Thorpe Award winner. The Thorpe Award is given annually to the top defensive back in college football. Claiborne is the second player from LSU to receive the award. Patrick Peterson won the award in 2010.
Claiborne was second in the SEC with six (6) interceptions and led the nation in interception yards with 173. He had 46 total tackles on the year, recording 28 solo tackles. The defensive leader on an LSU squad that ranked number two nationally in total defense. In addition to his play on the defensive side of the ball, Claiborne was also a dangerous return man, recording 398 return yards on 14 kickoff returns this season, one for a touchdown. He was second in the SEC in average return yards with 26.1 yards per return.
Claiborne had a key interception in the Tiger’s 9-6 victory at Alabama on November 5, 2011 and recorded an interception for a touchdown in the SEC Championship game against Georgia on December 3, 2011.
Claiborne and Peterson mark the second time in Thorpe Award history when players from the same team won back-to-back awards. The first time was with University of Texas’s Michael Huff (’05) and Aaron Ross (’06). This is the third year in a row that the award has been given to a player from the SEC (Eric Berry, Tennessee 2009; Patrick Peterson, LSU 2010 and Morris Claiborne, LSU 2011).
The other Thorpe Award finalists for 2011 were David Amerson, Soph. cornerback NC State and Mark Barron, Sr. safety Alabama.
The Thorpe Award will be presented at the Thorpe Award Banquet on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The award, presented by the Jim Thorpe Association, debuted in 1986 and has become one of the most prestigious awards in college football. The Thorpe Award will be celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary at this year’s banquet. For information about tickets and sponsorships, please contact the Jim Thorpe Association at 405.427.1400 or email@example.com