Week 1 of watch-list-o-rama has drawn to a close. But it wasn't over until the defensive backs got a chance to shine.
The Jim Thorpe Award — which annually honors the nation's top defensive back — released its preseason watch list Friday, and Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell was one of five Big Ten DBs on the list.
Campbell figures to be a crucial cog of a Northwestern defense that returns nearly all its starters from last year's squad. While the numbers put the Cats D in the bottom half of the conference in most categories, the unit led the league with 19 interceptions on the season and tied for the league lead with four interceptions returned for touchdowns. The Wildcats' plus-three turnover margin ranked fourth in the Big Ten and was one of just five positive turnover margins in the conference.
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Campbell was a big part of that turnover success last season, intercepting a team-high four passes. He also finished 2013 with 73 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Joining Campbell on the Thorpe Award watch list Friday were two members of Michigan State's elite secondary from a season ago: safety Kurtis Drummond and cornerback Trae Waynes. Despite the loss of last year's Thorpe Award winner, Darqueze Dennard, that unit is expected to be strong again for the Spartans this season. The fourth and fifth Big Ten representatives on the list are Michigan cornerback Blake Countess and Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas.