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    Football's Tony Driver Named to 2000 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List

    FIGHTING IRISH Tony Driver had 60 tackles and two interceptions in 1998.
    Tony Driver had 60 tackles and two interceptions in 1998.

    Aug. 24, 2000

    Notre Dame senior free safety Tony Driver (Louisville, Ky.) is one of 40 players on the "watch list" for the 2000 Jim Thorpe Award. The award is given annually to the best defensive back in college football by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City.

    The 6-1, 215-pound Driver is Notre Dame's top free safety for the 2000 season. He was named a second-team preseason All-American and an all-Independent team selection by The Sporting News. Additionally, The Sporting News ranked Driver third among free safeties in the nation.

    Driver has switched back to free safety after spending the 1999 season as a tailback in the Irish offensive backfield. While playing free safety in 1998, Driver recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions. Those two interceptions came in the last two minutes of the '98 Notre Dame-Purdue game. His first pick off with 1:39 remaining set up a game-winning field goal. His second interception with :37 left enabled the Irish to run out the clock.

    Since 1986, the Jim Thorpe Award has honored the nation's top defensive back. The 40 players on the "watch list" were chosen from preseason All-America lists and honors candidates highlighted in several football publications. Semifinalists for the award will be announced the second week in November and three finalists will be selected the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The winner will be announced at ESPN's College Football Awards Show at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on December 7.

    Last year, the award was presented to Tyrone Carter of Minnesota. Former winners include Deion Sanders ('88) and Charles Woodson ('97).

    Driver joins an impressive group of defensive backs from around the nation including Wisconsin junior Jason Fletcher, Kansas State senior Jarrod Cooper, Clemson senior Robert Carswell and Mississippi State senior Fred Smoot.

    2000 Jim Thorpe Pre-Season "Watch List"

    Muhammad Abdullah, Jr., Illinois
    Hakim Akbar, Jr., Washington
    Bennie Alexander, Jr., Florida
    Will Allen, Sr., Syracuse
    Leo Barnes, Sr., Southern Miss
    Gary Baxter, Sr., Baylor
    Cory Bird, Sr., Virginia Tech
    Robert Carswell, Sr., Clemson
    Tay Cody, Sr., Florida State
    Jarrod Cooper, Sr., Kansas State
    Keyuo Craver, Jr., Nebraska
    Kevin Curtis, Jr., Texas Tech
    Dempsey Dees, Sr., Boise State
    Daninelle Derricott, Sr., Marshall
    Jason Doering, Sr., Wisconsin
    Tony Driver, Sr., Notre Dame
    Andre Dyson, Sr., Utah
    Jamar Fletcher, Jr., Wisconsin
    Curtis Fuller, Sr., TCU
    Derrick Gibson, Sr., Florida State
    Jermaine Hampton, Sr., No. Illinois
    Renaldo Hill, Sr., Michigan State
    Errol Hood, Jr., North Carolina
    Jared Lee, Sr., BYU
    Chris Lepore, Sr., Navy
    Andre Lott, Sr., Tennessee
    Donald Malloy, Sr. New Mexico State
    Carl Nesmith, Sr., Kansas
    Pig Prather, Jr., Mississippi State
    Edward Reed, Jr., Miami (Fla.)
    Mike Rumph, Jr., Miami (Fla.)
    Antuan Simmons, Sr., USC
    Dwight Smith, Sr., Akron
    Fred Smoot, Sr., Mississippi State
    Syniker Taylor, Jr., Mississippi
    Kevin Thomas, Jr., UNLV
    Lamont Thompson, Sr.,Washington State
    Anthony Vontoure, Jr., Washington
    Ramon Walker, So., Pittsburgh
    Dennis Weatherby, Sr., Oregon State



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