DeShon Elliott named 2017 Thorpe Award finalist
Texas junior defensive back DeShon Elliott was named a finalist for the 2017 Jim Thorpe Award, announced on Monday afternoon. The Thorpe Award has a long history with The University of Texas, as both Michael Huff (2005) and Aaron Ross (2006) won the award. Additionally, Quentin Jammer (2001) and Earl Thomas (2009) have been finalists for the prestigious award.
Elliott is having a standout season for the Longhorns, as he ranks second nationally with six interceptions, and first nationally with two interceptions returned for a touchdown. His six interceptions are the most at UT since Earl Thomas had eight in 2009 (Thorpe Award finalist).
A native of Rockwall, Texas, Elliott is just the second player in school history (since 1947 when records are available) to record three multi-interception games in a career, two of which came in back-to-back games this season. He became the first Longhorn to record consecutive multi-interception games, as he had two at both USC and Iowa State. In that time period, Elliott is just the ninth player in school history with two multi-interception games in a season.
Elliott has not only shown off his ball skills at safety for the Texas defense, but also his physical nature. He has totaled 52 tackles (third on team) with 39 of them being solo stops. He has 8.5 tackles for loss (second on team) and 1.5 sacks. He also has forced a team-best three fumbles this season to go along with a fumble recovery and five pass breakups (tied for team lead).
Texas’ defensive secondary, led by Elliott, has limited some of the nation’s top passers and receivers this season well below their season averages. Last week, WVU’s Biletnikoff finalist David Sills totaled just two catches for 47 yards and no scores. He entered the game with 18 touchdown catches on the season. Texas also limited Oklahoma State’s Biletnikoff finalist James Washington to four catches for 42 yards and no scores.
He has been an integral part of the Longhorns’ much-improved defense. UT is allowing just 21.2 points per game (32nd), 109.6 rush yards per game (8th) and is ranked fourth nationally in both third- and fourth-down defense. The Longhorn defense has held some of the nation’s top scoring teams in check, also, as they shutout San Jose State, held Baylor and Iowa State to seven points, held Oklahoma State to 10 in regulation and 13 total, and then held WVU to just 14 points Saturday, seven of which came on a Mountaineer pick-6.
The award is presented to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. Established in 1986 and named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe, the award will be presented at The Home Depot College Football Awards in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Dickson named 2017 Ray Guy Award finalist
The nation’s leading punter is a finalist for the second straight season.
Michael Dickson has been named a finalist for the 2017 Ray Guy Award, the Augusta Sports Council announced on Monday afternoon. The award annually recognizes the best punter in college football. Dickson, who was also a finalist a season ago, looks to become the first Longhorn to ever win the award.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Dickson is leading the nation averaging 48.03 yards per punt through 11 games. His net punting average of 44.22 yards per punt is also the best in the country. Last season, Dickson set the school record with a punting average of 47.4 yards, which he is currently on pace to beat.
A junior, Dickson has not only shown off his strength, but also his precision this season. Of his 64 punts, 29 of them have gone for more than 50 yards and 11 have been more than 60 yards. His season long, and also a career long, was 76 yards at TCU. It was the fifth-longest punt in the FBS this season and tied for the fifth-longest in Texas Football history. Dickson has downed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line, 21 inside the 15-yard line and 11 inside the 10-yard line.
Just 13-of-64 (20.3 percent) have been less than 40 yards. Of those 13 punts, five have been fair caught or downed inside the 10-yard line and another one was fair caught at the 12. Of his 16 returns allowed this season, nine of them (56.3 percent) have been three yards or less and five of them have gone for negative return yardage.
Twice this season Dickson was honored as the Ray Guy Award’s National Punter of the Week. He was recognized after punting seven times with a net average of 46.2 yards per punt against Iowa State, and also after punting five times and tying his own school record with a 55.0 yards per punt average against Oklahoma.
The winner of the 2016 Ray Guy Award will be announced as part of the College Football Awards Show in Atlanta on Dec. 7.
The Ray Guy Award winner is determined by a national voting body of sports writers, college coaches, sports information directors and past Ray Guy Award winners. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times a punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline, and have a positive impact on the team’s success.