BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU senior defensive back Joe Brown became the sixth Hilltopper
named to a preseason national watch list on Friday as he earned a spot on the Paycom
Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, the nation’s top award for a collegiate defensive back.
An All-Conference USA Second Teamer in 2016, the senior from Louisville, Ky.,
started 10 games for the Hilltoppers and appeared in all 14 at cornerback as a true
junior. His 10 pass breakups led the team while his 11 passes defended tied for the
team lead. Brown tallied 43 tackles (34 solo) on the season, the sixth-most by any
Hilltopper, to go along with four tackles for loss and two sacks.
Against Marshall in the regular season finale, Brown had a 51-yard interception
return and recovered a blocked extra point in the third quarter and returned it 96
yards for two points. Against North Texas, Brown’s strip-sack of quarterback Mason
Fine in the second quarter resulted in a Hilltopper touchdown on the next offensive
Brown, who began his career as a running back for WKU in 2014, has started 14 games
over his career – all at defensive back – and has appeared in 36 games overall. He
is WKU’s first Thorpe Award Watch Lister since Cam Thomas prior to the 2014 season.
The Thorpe Award is one of the most coveted awards in college football. It is
awarded to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the
field, athletic ability and character. The award was established in 1986 and is
named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled not
only as a running back, passer, and kicker on the offensive side of the ball; but
also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the
football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in
the decathlon and pentathlon.
Brown joins five other Hilltoppers on national watch lists as the preseason lists
began to announce their early leaders on Monday. The National College Football
Awards Association member program will announce watch list members from July 10-20
ahead of the 2017 season.
Hilltoppers on National Watch Lists
* DB Joe Brown: Jim Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
* P Jake Collins: Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
* OL Dennis Edwards: Rimington Trophy (Top center)
* K Skyler Simcox: Lou Groza Award (Top kicker)
* DB Marcus Ward: AFCA Good Works Team
* QB Mike White: Maxwell Award (Top player)
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