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