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Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Levi Wallace named semifinalists for Jim Thorpe Award

Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama’s secondary received major recognition this morning. 

Defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace were two of 13 semifinalists named for the Jim Thorpe Award, according to an announcement from the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. 

While the Crimson Tide was the only program to have two nominees, Dominick Sanders of Georgia joined both Fitzpatrick and Wallace as the third Southeastern Conference candidate. 

A first-year starter at safety, Fitzpatrick has totaled 35 tackles in eight games – including five tackles for loss, one sack, four pass breakups and an interception. He is the Tide’s career leader in pick-sixes (four) and was the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week versus Texas A&M. 

Wallace, a former walk-on, has been stellar in his first year starting. 

Hailing from Tuscon, Ariz., the senior leads Alabama’s defensive secondary in pass breakups (nine) while sharing the team lead in interceptions (three). He accounts for the team’s lone non-offensive touchdown; a 35-yard pick-six against Mississippi at home back in September.  

The impact of Wallace as an outside cornerback has allowed Alabama to limit some of college football’s most prolific receivers to minimal success. Aside from Colorado State’s Michael Gallup – four catches, 70 yards – Wallace has rendered targets below their season average. 

He’s a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week, with his second honor coming on the heels of his performance versus Tennessee. Wallace recorded six total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a quarterback hurry in the Tide’s 45-7 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium last week. 

Named after multi-sport legend Jim Thorpe, the Thorpe Award is presented annually to college football’s best defensive back. This year’s winner will be announced on Dec. 7 at the College Football Awards Show in Atlanta and will be honored at a banquet on Feb. 6, 2018 in Oklahoma City.  

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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