Ji’Ayir Brown, Joey Porter Jr. Named To Jim Thorpe Award Watch List

Penn State defensive backs Ji’Ayir Brown and Joey Porter Jr. were named to the preseason watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Monday morning. The Thorpe Award annually recognizes the top defensive back in college football.

Fifth-year senior Ji’Ayir Brown is coming off his best season to date. In 2021, the Lackawanna College transfer logged an NCAA-best six interceptions, including one to ensure a last-second win over Wisconsin.

In addition to his six interceptions, Brown recorded 73 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. Following the season, Brown was named third-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches.. Brown announced his decision to return to Penn State in December.

Redshirt junior Joey Porter Jr. is similarly set for a big year. As the only Nittany Lion currently projected to be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, Porter is expected to build upon a productive 2021 season.

The son of former Pittsburgh Steeler Joey Porter was responsible for 51 tackles, four pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and an interception last year. Porter was also named to the third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, and he announced his intent to return for another season on Christmas Day.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with six players earning mentions on the award’s watch list. Ohio State saw two players named, while Michigan State and Iowa also each earned one nod.

With a win, either Brown or Porter would become the university’s first Thorpe Award recipient. Last season, Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker was tabbed as a semifinalist for the award.

The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame will pick the award’s 15 semifinalists in October before three finalists are announced in November. Ultimately, this year’s Thorpe Award recipient will be honored at The Home Depot College Football Awards, which is typically held in December.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

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