Senior safety T.J. McDonald and junior cornerback Nickell Robey have been named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list, the Jim Thorpe Association announced Friday.
The Thorpe Award recognizes the best defensive back in college football. An eventual winner will be selected from three finalists at The Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 6 on ESPN.
After a successful 2011 campaign in which he registered 67 tackles and three interceptions, McDonald returns as a multi-talented player who is integral in both pass and run defense. Robey, often entrusted with the task of shutting down other teams’ top receivers, recorded two interceptions last season and enters his third season at starting cornerback for USC.
McDonald and Robey anchored USC’s secondary last season and will lead a veteran unit into 2012. For both dynamic All-Pac-12 first-team performers, this is their second watch list selection after both were added to the Nagurski Award watch list on Thursday.