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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md.) earned a spot on his fourth watch list of the season with a berth on the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award watch list. He has also earned spots on the Lott IMPACT Trophy (National Defensive of the Year on and off the field), Bednarik Award (National Defensive of the Year) and Nagurski Trophy (National Defensive of the Year) watch lists.
The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is awarded to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history's greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled not only as a running back, passer, and kicker on the offensive side of the ball; but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Allen was selected third-team All-Big Ten by the conference's coaches and honorable mention by the media panel last season. He made a team- and career-high 110 tackles on the season to become the first Penn State safety to lead the team in tackles since Shawn Mayer (144) in 2002. He was honored as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Rose Bowl Player of the Week for his 22-tackle effort versus Minnesota Oct. 1. He also claimed Oct. 24 Co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week accolades after blocking a field goal attempt versus No. 2 Ohio State, which led to the game-winning touchdown by teammate Grant Haley. Allen finished the season ranked 16th in the Big Ten with 7.9 tackles per game and was third in the conference with two fumble recoveries. For his career, Allen has 249 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight pass breakups.
Eight different Nittany Lions have been named to preseason watch lists. They include: junior running back Saquon Barkley -- Maxwell Award (National Player of the Year); junior quarterback Trace McSorley -- Maxwell Award (National Player of the Year); senior safety Marcus Allen -- Lott IMPACT Trophy (National Defensive of the Year on and off the field), Bednarik Award (National Defensive of the Year), Nagurski Trophy (National Defensive of the Year), Thorpe Award (top defensive back); senior linebacker Jason Cabinda -- Lott IMPACT Trophy (National Defensive of the Year on and off the field), Bednarik Award (National Defensive of the Year), Nagurski Trophy (National Defensive of the Year); senior tight end Mike Gesicki --Mackey Award (top tight end); senior linebacker Brandon Smith -- Allstate AFCA Good Works; senior kicker Tyler Davis -- Lou Groza Award (top kicker); sophomore punter Blake Gillikin -- Ray Guy Award (top punter).
The Nittany Lions' home schedule features a trio of non-conference games, including Pitt's first visit to Beaver Stadium since 1999. The Nittany Lions open the season against Akron (Sept. 2; noon) and face Pitt (Sept. 9; 3:30 p.m.) and Georgia State (Sept. 16) to close out a three-game homestand to start the year. In Big Ten play, Penn State welcomes Indiana (Sept. 30), Michigan (Oct. 21), Rutgers (Nov. 11; noon - Homecoming) and Nebraska (Nov. 18) to Happy Valley.
Nearly 8,900 new season tickets have been sold for the 2017 Penn State football season presented by PSECU. The public single-game ticket sale opens Tuesday, July 11. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2017 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m.