Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard has had a great season thus far, leading the Spartans’ top-ranked defense in interceptions (4), pass break-ups (7), and passes defended (11).
Those kind of stats were good enough to make Dennard a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, that is given each year to the nation’s top cornerback.He will join Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner in Orlando, Florida to see who the winner is on December 12.
Dennard, nicknamed “No Fly Zone”, is only the second Michigan State player to be named a finalist for the award. The only other player with such an honor was Todd Krumm, who was one of 10 finalists in 1987.
Dennard is also one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given to the nation’s top overall defensive player.
Fellow Thorpe Award finalist, Lamarcus Joyner, is also a finalist for the Nagurski Award, whose recipient will be announced December 9th.
The success of Dennard this season has not just led to finalist spots for multiple awards, but a rise in his NFL draft stock as well.
Rob Rang of CBSSports.com recently projects Dennard going 13th overall in the 2014 NFL draft.
Also, a NFL scouting evaluation showed that Dennard has allowed less than a yard per pass in his area so far this season. The last person to do that was Florida State’s Deion Sanders. Not bad company to keep.
Dennard will play next on Saturday, when the Spartans take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home.
Dan Tyler is the host of Spartan Red Zone for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever