The Jim Thorpe Award is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding defensive back, but Oklahoma Sooners Jordan Thomas and Steven Parker were not included on this season’s watch list.
According to Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame president Eddie Griffin in an interview with Berry Tramel, Thomas has been excluded from the list due to his past off-field issues. Thomas has been arrested twice during his time in Norman — The first occurring in 2015 due to a failure appear in court for after a traffic citation, and the more recent occurring last summer after he tried to evade police following a bar fight on Campus Corner. The charges following the second arrest were eventually dropped.
As a junior in 2016, Thomas struggled a bit at times and gave up a few too many big plays. However, his ability is undeniable, and there’s no question he would’ve been on this list if not for the arrests. Griffin also stated that three other likely candidates to make the Thorpe watch list were left off because of off-field issues. I personally think it’s a bit stupid (at least in Thomas’ case), but it’s their organization and they have all the right in the world to do things their way.
While Thomas, who is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy, was snubbed because of his past issues, Parker seems to simply have been overlooked by the in-state organization. The safety has made a lot of big plays in big moments for the Sooners during his career (most notably the deflection to win the game against TCU in 2015), yet he seems to not be getting any love leading up to his senior season. Parker was passed over on the list in favor of players from Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, San Jose State, Northern Illinois, North Texas, Tulane, Wyoming and Florida Atlantic. It’s nice of them to include guys from small schools, and I’m sure some of these guys are legit, but give me a break! Hopefully Parker uses all of this as motivation and has a fantastic season in 2017.