OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Jim Thorpe Award watch list includes 39 of the nation’s best defensive backs representing 10 conferences.

The Jim Thorpe Award is one of the most coveted awards in college football. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.

Virginia's Anthony Harris led the nation with eight interceptions a year ago and leads the way among returning defensive backs. Darqueze Dennard became the first Michigan State player to win the award in 2013.

The watch list is chosen by a screening committee who compile a list of 30-50 players. The list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses. The Thorpe Award winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 11 on ESPN.

Related:
Complete Jim Thrope Award watch list