July 9, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame senior cornerback Vontez Duff (Copperas Cove, Texas) and senior free safety Glenn Earl (Lisle, Ill.) were named to the preseason “watch list” for the 2003 Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation’s best defensive back. The announcement of the 37 leading candidates for the award was made by the Jim Thorpe Association.
Duff, ranked 10th in the nation at the cornerback position by The Sporting News, established himself as one of the nation’s most exciting defensive backs as a junior in 2002. The 6-1, 192-pound cornerback recorded 36 tackles, including one for loss, intercepted one pass and returning it for a score in a 24-17 win over Purdue last season. He also recovered two fumbles in ’02 and blocked a field goal in Notre Dame’s 31-7 victory over Stanford, en route to earning third-team Associated Press All-America honors. Duff also was seventh in the nation in kick returns at 27.0 yards an attempt in ’02.
The 6-1, 205-pound Earl earned the reputation as one of the most feared tacklers in college football. He was the second-leading tackler for the Irish with 81 stops, including a sack in the upset win over Florida State. Earl also picked off two passes in wins over Florida State and Navy, forced two fumbles and recorded two fumble recoveries.
The list of Thorpe Award candidates will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on Monday, Nov. 3, and then to three finalists on Monday, Nov. 24. The winner will be announced on ESPN’s College Football Awards Show on Tuesday, Dec. 9, with the official presentation of the award to take place in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Monday, Feb. 9, 2004.