Each year the Jim Thorpe Award is handed out to the best defensive back in college football. Two Buckeyes were able to land on the list. Sophomore Denzel Burke and Junior Ronnie Hickman were both named to the preseason watchlist. The full list includes 35 total backs, representing 10 conferences and one independent university.
A second-year Buckeye, Denzel is coming off a freshman season where he started all 13 games. Denzel led the team with 13 passes defensed and recorded 36 total tackles (28 solo stops). Burke is dog on defense and has proven to be one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He was the first true freshman to start the season opener on defense since Andy Katzenmoyer in 1996. Burke shows tremendous promise and has a chance to lead this Buckeye defense to a potential national championship. Denzel will be entering this 2022 season with at least one pass block up in five consecutive games.
Coming into his 4th year at Ohio State, Ronnie Hickman is the representing the Buckeyes for the Jim Thorpe Award as a safety. Considered one of the best defensive players on the 2021 team, Hickman is the first Buckeye in six years with 100 or more tackles in a season. Ronnie led the team with 100 tackles, including 54 solo stops last season. The coaches poll named Ronnie to the Second-team all-Big Ten Conference. Ronnie has made a name for himself and been a major contributor to the defense since recovering from an injury in the 2020 season.
It will be important for Buckeye fans to keep an eye on these two as Ohio State strives for a national championship. It is go time and a young team with some experience under their belt will look to prove they are the number 1 team in the nation. The country will get their first look at the Buckeyes as Heisman Trophy favorite CJ Stroud, leads OSU against Notre Dame in Columbus.
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