Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard was named the winner of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, as announced on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN from the Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney's BoardWalk. Dennard is the first Spartan to win the award, which has been awarded annually since 1986 to the nation's best defensive back.
He leads the 12-1 Spartans in passes defended (14), pass break-ups (10) and interceptions (4) and ranks fourth on the team in tackles (59) and fifth in production points (189). Dennard has been credited with 2.5 tackles for losses (6 yards) and ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (tied for third) and passes defended (tied for seventh at 1.08 per game). He helps anchor a defensive unit that ranks among the NCAA top 10 in seven different stat categories: rushing defense (first at 80.8 yards per game), total defense (first at 248.2 ypg.), opponent third-down conversions (first at .277; 53-of-191), passing efficiency defense (second with 91.5 rating), scoring defense (fourth at 12.7 points per game), turnover margin (seventh at +1.1 per game) and passing defense (sixth at 167.4 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 13 consecutive weeks.
Dennard is the sixth Big Ten standout to claim the Thorpe Award, joining previous winners in Michigan's Charles Woodson (1997), Minnesota's Tyrone Carter (1999), Ohio State's Antoine Winfield (1998) and Malcolm Jenkins (2008) and Wisconsin's Jamar Fletcher (2000).