Kansas State junior defensive back Nigel Malone is one of 15 players nationally to be named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s most outstanding defensive back, the Jim Thorpe Association announced on Monday.
Malone is the first Wildcat up for the award since Terence Newman was the award winner in 2002. He is also the fourth K-State defensive back to earn semifinalist status, joining Newman (2001 semifinalist, 2002 winner), Chris Canty (1995 and 1996 semifinalist) and Jamie Mendez (1993 semifinalist).
A native of Manteca, Calif., Malone has six interceptions this season to lead the Big 12 and rank second nationally, and he also has 12 passes defended, which is second in the league and eighth in the country. He is also one of two players this season to intercept two or more passes in multiple games as he had two picks against Eastern Kentucky and Oklahoma.
Malone, who transferred from City College of San Francisco prior to this season, is tied for third in school history in interceptions, while he is tied for the most by a first-year Wildcat player with All-American Jamie Mendez, who had six interceptions in 1990.
The Thorpe Award was established in 1986 and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2011. Three other Big 12 defensive backs – Brodrick Brown (Oklahoma State), Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma) and Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State) – joined Malone on the list.
No. 14 Kansas State will hit the road this weekend for a matchup with the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday. The game, which will be televised by ABC, will kick off at 7 p.m.
— KSU Sports Information —