MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University sophomore spear Tykee Smith has been named a semifinalist for the 2020 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award presented by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
The Jim Thorpe Award is awarded annually to the best defensive back in college football. There were 12 semifinalists announced from the FBS division, and it included eight players from Power 5 leagues and represented six conferences. Besides Smith, the only other Big 12 defensive back announced was TCU junior safety Trevon Moehrig.
Smith has started all nine games in 2020 and is tied for the WVU team lead with two interceptions (2), is second in tackles for loss (8.0) and tied for second in tackles (61) and pass breakups (5). A 2019 FWAA Freshman All-American, Smith is tied for No. 5 in the Big 12 in interceptions and No. 8 in interceptions per game. He has recorded at least one tackle for loss in four straight games and has registered at least six tackles in eight straight games.
He earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against TCU, finishing with a season-best nine tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass breakup and an interception. He also tallied seven tackles, including a tackle for loss and a pass breakup at Texas and had eight tackles at Oklahoma State and against Kansas.
The semifinalists are selected by a screening committee. However, this list is not final and players who have outstanding seasons can be recognized as one of the three finalists.
The award recipient is selected from the three finalists by the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award National Selection Committee, which boasts members of the NCFAA, an Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in-house award committee, former Paycom Jim Thorpe Award recipients, and sportswriters and college football journalists throughout the country. The three finalists will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 22nd, in conjunction with ESPN.
The 2020 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show Presented by Gildan, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, from 7-8:30 p.m. EST, live on ESPN. The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award commemorative banquet is scheduled to be held in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
2020 PAYCOM JIM THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALISTS LIST
Bubba Bolden, Miami, r-Jr., Jalen Catalon, Arkansas, R-Freshman Kaiir Elam, Florida, So., Richie Grant, UCF, R-Sr., Allie Green IV, Tulsa, Sr., Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State, Sr., Brandon Joseph, Northwestern, r-Fr., Trevon Moehrig, TCU, Jr., Tykee Smith, West Virginia, So., Patrick Surtain II, Alabama, Jr., Shaun Wade, Ohio State, Graduate, James Wiggins, Cincinnati, Sr.