July 8, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Vanderbilt junior defensive back D.J. Moore has been named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watchlist.
The Thorpe Award, named after one of the greatest all-around athletes in American sports history, is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back.
Moore, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., is one of 40 candidates named to the preseason list. He is also one of eight players in the Southeastern Conference included on the watchlist.
In recent weeks, Moore also has been named as a preseason candidate for other prestigious college football honors, including the Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award.
Moore was unanimous All-SEC pick as a sophomore in 2007 after sharing the conference lead with six interceptions. He was named first team All-SEC by sportswriters and second team all-conference by league coaches.
Commodore Head Coach Bobby Johnson said Moore was a deserving candidate for national recognition.
"D.J. has been a tremendously productive player for our team since his arrival on campus. He's one of the nation's most versatile players, with game-changing abilities as a defensive back, offensive weapon and return specialist," Johnson said. "He's a pleasure to coach, and a guy that is willing to do his very best to help our team win football games. D.J. is an extremely deserving candidate for the Thorpe Award, and all the other preseason recognition coming his way."
The Thorpe Award watchlist is determined by analysis of the preseason All-American teams listed in several college football annual magazines. Members of the Thorpe Award committee will meet in early November to select semifinalsists for the award. Three finalists will be determined after Thanksgiving, with the eventual winner being announced at the ESPN College Football Awards Show after the 2008 season. Formal presentation of the Thorpe Award takes place in Oklahoma City in early February.
After earning a starting role at cornerback during his freshman season, Moore burst on the SEC scene in 2007, starting the season with interceptions in early-season wins against Richmond, Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan. He earned national accolades during a midseason performance at South Carolina, picking off two Gamecock passes and contributing eight tackles in an effort that gained national defensive player of the week honors after the Commodores' 17-6 road win.
Besides producing the most interceptions by a Vanderbilt player in 25 years, Moore finished the season as the Commodores' leader with 63 solo tackles. He also ranked second with 10 passes defensed, and contributed one quarterback sack. He also was an explosive kickoff return specialist, setting a team record with 823 total return yards. His 25.7-yard average matched Kwane Doster's 2002 average as the highest by a Commodore in nearly 40 years. Moore produced seven returns of 40 yards or more.
Moore became the SEC's only three-way threat in 2007, also achieving success in a limited offensive role. Playing receiver in three midseason games, Moore produced 78 rushing yards on six carries, including 39-yard gains against both Georgia and Miami (Ohio).