Buckeyes dominate Thorpe watch list

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Despite the Ohio State defense losing seven starters from its 2012 campaign, the Buckeyes' secondary has been viewed as a strength of the team heading into the 2013 season. On Friday, that notion only gained steam when a trio of Ohio State defenders were named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Cornerback Bradley Roby and safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant each find themselves on the preseason watch list for the award, which is presented annually to college football's best defensive back. Earlier this week, Roby was named to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award -- where he was joined by Barnett -- as well as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, alongside Bryant.
A redshirt junior, Roby led the nation in passes defended per game (1.73, 19 total) in 2012, while also recording 63 tackles and two interceptions. The Suwanee, Ga. native had the option to enter last April's NFL Draft, but ultimately opted to return to Ohio State for his junior season.
Barnett's inclusion on the list comes after a junior season that saw the Dayton, Ohio native tally 56 tackles, defend eight passes passes, and record two interceptions. Entering his third season as a starter for the Buckeyes, Barnett has been lauded for his leadership skills throughout the 2013 offseason.
Joining Barnett and Roby as a three-year starter in the OSU secondary is Bryant, who placed second in both tackles (71) and passes defended (13) for the Buckeyes in 2013. The Cleveland, Glenville native has played the role of enforcer for Ohio State during his college career, making an impact with disruptive hits, despite his 5-foot-10, 192-pound frame.
With 35 players named on the initial watch list, the winner of this season's award will be selected from three finalists on Dec. 6, as a part of The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.