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