Aug. 24, 2000
Notre Dame senior free safety Tony Driver (Louisville, Ky.) is one of 40 players on the “watch list” for the 2000 Jim Thorpe Award. The award is given annually to the best defensive back in college football by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City.
The 6-1, 215-pound Driver is Notre Dame’s top free safety for the 2000 season. He was named a second-team preseason All-American and an all-Independent team selection by The Sporting News. Additionally, The Sporting News ranked Driver third among free safeties in the nation.
Driver has switched back to free safety after spending the 1999 season as a tailback in the Irish offensive backfield. While playing free safety in 1998, Driver recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions. Those two interceptions came in the last two minutes of the ’98 Notre Dame-Purdue game. His first pick off with 1:39 remaining set up a game-winning field goal. His second interception with :37 left enabled the Irish to run out the clock.
Since 1986, the Jim Thorpe Award has honored the nation’s top defensive back. The 40 players on the “watch list” were chosen from preseason All-America lists and honors candidates highlighted in several football publications. Semifinalists for the award will be announced the second week in November and three finalists will be selected the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The winner will be announced at ESPN’s College Football Awards Show at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on December 7.
Last year, the award was presented to Tyrone Carter of Minnesota. Former winners include Deion Sanders (’88) and Charles Woodson (’97).
Driver joins an impressive group of defensive backs from around the nation including Wisconsin junior Jason Fletcher, Kansas State senior Jarrod Cooper, Clemson senior Robert Carswell and Mississippi State senior Fred Smoot.
2000 Jim Thorpe Pre-Season “Watch List”
Muhammad Abdullah, Jr., IllinoisHakim Akbar, Jr., WashingtonBennie Alexander, Jr., FloridaWill Allen, Sr., SyracuseLeo Barnes, Sr., Southern MissGary Baxter, Sr., BaylorCory Bird, Sr., Virginia TechRobert Carswell, Sr., ClemsonTay Cody, Sr., Florida StateJarrod Cooper, Sr., Kansas StateKeyuo Craver, Jr., NebraskaKevin Curtis, Jr., Texas TechDempsey Dees, Sr., Boise StateDaninelle Derricott, Sr., MarshallJason Doering, Sr., WisconsinTony Driver, Sr., Notre DameAndre Dyson, Sr., UtahJamar Fletcher, Jr., WisconsinCurtis Fuller, Sr., TCUDerrick Gibson, Sr., Florida StateJermaine Hampton, Sr., No. IllinoisRenaldo Hill, Sr., Michigan StateErrol Hood, Jr., North CarolinaJared Lee, Sr., BYUChris Lepore, Sr., NavyAndre Lott, Sr., TennesseeDonald Malloy, Sr. New Mexico StateCarl Nesmith, Sr., KansasPig Prather, Jr., Mississippi StateEdward Reed, Jr., Miami (Fla.)Mike Rumph, Jr., Miami (Fla.)Antuan Simmons, Sr., USCDwight Smith, Sr., AkronFred Smoot, Sr., Mississippi StateSyniker Taylor, Jr., MississippiKevin Thomas, Jr., UNLVLamont Thompson, Sr.,Washington StateAnthony Vontoure, Jr., WashingtonRamon Walker, So., PittsburghDennis Weatherby, Sr., Oregon State