2015 Jim Thorpe Award watch list

Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller can only hope to one day be a first-round draft pick like his brother, Kyle, was in 2014 (Chicago Bears, No. 14 overall). But the younger Fuller has a chance to do something this year that his older brother never did: win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.

Fuller, Florida State's Jalen Ramsey and Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III are among the top candidates for the 2015 Thorpe Award, which released 42 players on its preseason watch list Monday. Fuller was a first-team All-ACC pick for the Hokies last season after recording two interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Ramsey is one of the most versatile athletes in the ACC as a safety, while Fuller and Hargreaves are two of the game's most talented cornerbacks. Hargreaves and Fuller were selected as two of the top three defensive back prospects to watch this fall by NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein.

Other top players selected to the watch list include UCLA's Ishmael Adams, Clemson's Mackensie Alexander, Ohio State's Vonn Bell and Ole Miss' Tony Conner.

The Thorpe Award goes to the top defensive back in college football each year and has been won by recent NFL first-round draft picks such as Darqueze Dennard, Morris Claiborne, Patrick Peterson and Eric Berry.

The winner will be announced from among three finalists on Dec. 10.

Schedule of award watch list releases:

Tuesday, July 7: Bednarik Award and Maxwell Award
Wednesday, July 8: Mackey Award and Rimington Trophy
Thursday, July 9: Lou Groza Award and Ray Guy Award
Friday, July 10: Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy
Monday, July 13: Jim Thorpe Award
Tuesday, July 14: Butkus Award and Rotary Lombardi Award
Wednesday, July 15: Biletnikoff Award and Wuerffel Trophy
Thursday, July 16: Davey O'Brien Award and Doak Walker Award
Friday, July 17: Walter Camp Award

Jim Thorpe Award watch list

Ishmael Adams, UCLA
Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
Tony Annese, Central Michigan
Budda Baker, Washington
Adairius Barnes, Louisiana Tech
Dante Barnett, Kansas State
Vonn Bell, Ohio State
Quin Blanding, Virginia
Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee
Michael Caputo, Wisconsin
Jeremy Cash, Duke
Tony Conner, Ole Miss
Donte Deayon, Boise State
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
Nate Holley, Kent State
Adoree' Jackson, USC
William Jackson, Houston
Randall Jette, Massachusetts
Jonathan Jones, Auburn
Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Damontae Kazee, San Diego State
Montres Kitchens, Troy
Mitch Lane, ULM
Richard Leonard, FIU
William Likely, Maryland
Paris Logan, Northern Illinois
Trent Matthews, Colorado State
Adrian McDonald, Houston
Doug Middleton, Appalachian State
David Mims II, Texas State
Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Parry Nickerson, Tulane
Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State
Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Max Redfield, Notre Dame
Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
Jordan Simone, Arizona State
Weston Steelhammer, Air Force
Darian Thompson, Boise State
JJ Whittaker, San Diego State
Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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