Finalists for college football’s postseason awards were announced this week and Lamarcus Joyner of the Florida State Seminoles made the cut as one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive back. Joyner has been a key piece of the Noles’ perfect season so far in 2013, making plays all over the field. It’s his ability to disrupt opposing offenses with game-changing plays that makes him one of the nation’s best cornerbacks.
Looking at his stat line, you wouldn’t peg him as one of the best cover-corners in football right away. He’s got just one interception this season and three pass breakups. Meanwhile, the other finalists for the Thorpe Award have had more prototypical defensive back-caliber seasons. Justin Gilbert of the Oklahoma State Cowboys has six interceptions this season, including two returned for touchdowns and five pass breakups while Darqueze Dennard of the Michigan State Spartans has four interceptions and seven pass breakups.
But it’s the other things that Joyner does out of the secondary that set him apart from the other defensive backs. Joyner’s athleticism is used in blitz packages regularly and he leads the FSU defense with five sacks on the season. He’s added another pair of quarterback pressures and forced three fumbles this season while his 55 tackles on the year are the most of any of the Thorpe Award finalists.
While he doesn’t have the pass defense numbers or interceptions that are typically the barometer of a good defensive back, Lamarcus Joyner has separated himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the country because of his ability to cause havoc for opposing offenses. Will it be enough to bring the Thorpe to Tallahassee this December?