Oklahoma City—Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State has been named the 2012 Thorpe Award Winner, given to the top defensive back in college football.
“First of all, it’s a blessing from God to be given this opportunity,” Banks said. “I want to first thank the Jim Thorpe Association. It’s kind of shocking. There are so many great defensive backs in the country and this is all just a dream to me.”
Banks, also named a Walter Camp All-American Thursday, took home the award after posting 59 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions, 2.0 tackles for loss, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery in 2012. Among active players in the FBS, the senior team captain ranks first in career interception yards (320), is tied for third with 16 career interceptions, is tied for sixth in interceptions returned for touchdowns (3), ranks eighth in interceptions per game (0.32) and is tied for eighth with 26 career pass breakups.
The other Thorpe Award finalists for 2012 were Dee Milliner of Alabama and Phillip Thomas of Fresno State. Banks is the fourth consecutive player from the SEC to be chosen as a Thorpe Award winner. Previous winners include Morris Claiborne, LSU (2011); Patrick Peterson, LSU (2010); and Eric Berry, Tennessee (2009).
“Four years ago, Johnthan Banks made a decision to stay at home and represent the people of Mississippi,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. “What a tremendous honor for a young man from Maben, Miss., to be honored with the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football. It is something special for the entire state of Mississippi.”
The announcement was made at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN. Banks was presented the Thorpe Award by Chickasaw Nation Governor, Bill Anoatubby and former University of Oklahoma football coach, Barry Switzer on behalf of the Jim Thorpe Association.
The Jim Thorpe Association will honor Banks at the Jim Thorpe Award Banquet on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 in Oklahoma City. The banquet will be held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Ticket and sponsorship questions should be directed to the Jim Thorpe Association at 405.427.1400