Pitt’s Whitehead Named to Jim Thorpe Award Watch List; Seven Panthers on Pre-Season Watch Lists

Jordan Whitehead
PITTSBURGH – Pitt sophomore safety Jordan Whitehead has been named to the 39-player watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is annually presented to college football’s top defensive back by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

(Photo of Jordan Whitehead. Photo Courtest of Pitt Athletics)

Whitehead, who was last week also placed on the watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy as a candidate for National Defensive Player of the Year, received his third watch-list selection of the 2016 preseason with Monday morning’s release of the Thorpe Award contenders.

The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year led the Panthers with 109 total tackles last season, setting a school record for stops by a true freshman. In winning the ACC Rookie of the Year award, Whitehead became the first defensive player to earn that distinction since North Carolina cornerback Dre’ Bly in 1996.

The all-action defender finished his phenomenal debut season with six tackles for loss, a sack assist, six pass breakups, one interception and a fumble return for a touchdown (22 yards against Navy in the Military Bowl) to earn consensus selection as a Freshman All-American in 2015. Whitehead also averaged 10.2 yards per carry for the season and scored two rushing touchdowns against Notre Dame in selected offensive playing time.

Whitehead is Pitt’s first Thorpe Award watch-list honoree since Jarred Holley was selected as a contender for the distinction ahead of his senior season in 2012. Dom DeCicco (2010) and Aaron Berry (2009) also recently earned preseason recognition from the Thorpe Award for the Panthers.

Members of the 2016 Pitt football team have now earned a total of nine watch-list selections ahead of the upcoming campaign. Along with Whitehead’s three selections, junior running back James Conner (Maxwell Award), senior defensive end Ejuan Price (Bednarik Award), senior offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty and senior guard Dorian Johnson (Outland Trophy), junior center Alex Officer (Rimington Trophy) and junior punter Ryan Winslow (Ray Guy Award) were also placed on the watch lists for some of college football’s most prestigious individual awards.

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