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STATE COLLEGE, Pa.; November 9, 2000 -- Penn State free safety James Boyd (Chesapeake, Va.) has been chosen one of 12 semifinalists for the 2000 Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation's top defensive back.
Boyd's selection marks the second consecutive year a Nittany Lion from the Tidewater Region has been named a Thorpe Award semifinalist. Former All-America cornerback David Macklin (Newport News, Va.) was so honored in 1999.
The 6-0, 200-pound Boyd has been a standout all season for Coach Joe Paterno's squad. He is on pace to record the most tackles ever by a Penn State defensive back. His 92 tackles lead the team and are the most for a Nittany Lion defensive back since safety Harry Hamilton had 100 in 1983. With eight more hits, Boyd will become just the 13th PSU player to record 100 tackles in a season. The former Indian River HS All-American has recorded six double figure tackle games this season, leading the team all six times.
Boyd is third in the Big Ten in overall tackles with 92 and leads the Conference with 71 solo stops. He is tied for the team lead with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and is second on the team with 10 pass break-ups. He also has four tackles for loss and returned a fumble for a touchdown against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 9.
Boyd registered a career-high 16 stops (12 solo) vs. Toledo, the most tackles for a Nittany Lion since linebacker Gerald Filardi had 17 vs. Wisconsin in 1996. He collected four turnovers, which led to 27 points, vs. Louisiana Tech, including two fumble recoveries and two interceptions to earn Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors. Last week against Iowa, he recorded 12 solo tackles, including two TFL, leading the Lions in stops for the sixth time this season.
"We ask more of James Boyd than we do of anybody," says Paterno. "He has played really well; he has been an outstanding player."
Boyd joins two other Big Ten players on the list of Thorpe Award semifinalists: Nate Clements (Ohio State) and Jamar Fletcher (Wisconsin). The remaining nine are: Will Allen (Syracuse), Leo Barnes (Southern Mississippi), Gary Baxter (Baylor), Robert Carswell (Clemson), Nijrell Eason (Arizona State), Andre Lott (Tennessee), Dwight Smith (Akron), Fred Smoot (Mississippi State) and J.T. Thatcher (Oklahoma).
The Thorpe Award has been presented annually since 1986 by the Jim Thorpe Association. The Association will announce its three finalists on November 21. The finalists will be invited to ESPN's College Football Awards Show, December 7, in Orlando, Fla., at which time the winner will be announced. Formal presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on February 19, 2001.
Penn State visits Michigan on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. and ESPN will televise the Big Ten clash.