EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior safety Brian Peters is one of 37 of the nation's top defensive backs named to the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list while Vince Browne and Ben Burkett are among the candidates for the Rotary Lombardi Award, presented annually to the top lineman in the country.
Peters started all 13 games for Northwestern a year ago and led the defense with 107 total tackles -- good for sixth in the Big Ten -- while being named a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media. The Pickerington, Ohio, native has a knack for making plays around the ball, as evidenced by his seven career interceptions, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Peters' single-game career high of 18 tackles came against rival Illinois in last season's Allstate Wrigleyville Classic at Wrigley Field.
Browne and Burkett are among 16 representatives from the Big Ten who appear on the Lombardi Award preseason watch list. Browne has garnered significant national recognition in recent weeks having also been named to watch lists for the Nagurski and Bednarik Awards, both given to the nation's top defensive player. He ranks fifth all-time in sacks at NU (16.0) and ninth in tackles for loss (31.0).
Burkett is entering his fourth year as NU's starting center, starting all 39 games over the last three seasons, tied for the longest active streak on the team. Earlier this spring he was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list (nation's top center) for the third-straight year.
The Thorpe Award, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is named after one of history's greatest all-around athletes, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball but also made his mark as a defensive back. The Oklahoma native also played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Now in its 42nd year, the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense of defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, and linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.
Both distinctions are part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) and will have their respective winners announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 8.Following is the complete 2011 preseason watch list calendar:
Tue., July 5: Maxwell Award/Bednarik Award
Wed., July 6: Biletnikoff Award/Mackey Award
Thu., July 7: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
Fri., July 8: Bronko Nagurski Trophy/Outland Trophy
Mon., July 11: Jim Thorpe Award
Tue., July 12: Rotary Lombardi Award
Wed., July 13: Rimington Trophy
Thu., July 14: Butkus Award
Fri., July 15: Davey O'Brien Award/Doak Walker Award
Mon., July 18: Walter Camp Award