Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker won the Jim Thorpe award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive back, on Thursday night.
He received the honor at the College Football Awards show, a made-for-ESPN event held at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta. Winners of eight other major individual player awards also were announced during the annual show.
Baker, a senior, became the first UGA player to win the Thorpe award, which has been presented for 33 years. The only other UGA finalist for the award was Champ Bailey in 1998.
“It’s just a blessing to be here and get this award,” Baker said. “I want to thank the Dawg Nation and everybody.”
The other finalists for the award this season were Notre Dame’s Julian Love and LSU’s Greedy Williams.
“They are great players (who are) worthy of getting the award, too,” Baker said.
Two quarterbacks who are among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Saturday in New York, split major awards at Thursday night’s show. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa won the Maxwell Award as college player of the year, and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray won the Davey O’Brien award as top quarterback.
Murray was a finalist for the award Tagovailoa won, as was Tagovailoa for the award Murray won. Their teams will meet in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Tagovailoa also won the Walter Camp player-of-the-year award announced earlier Thursday.
In addition to Tagovailoa, two other Alabama players won awards at Thursday night’s show: Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams claimed the Outland Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman, and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy took the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver.
Other winners were Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, who claimed the Chuck Bednarik award as the national defensive player of the year; Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who won the Doak Walker award as best running back; Syracuse’s Andre Szmyt, the Lou Groza award winner as top placekicker; and Texas A&M’s Braden Mann, the Ray Guy award winner as top punter.