Lucas is also among the preseason nominees for the Bednarik Award, which is bestowed upon the nation’s defensive player of the year.
The Jim Thorpe Award is one of the most coveted awards in college football. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Penn State has a strong tradition of producing Thorpe Award candidates, as former Nittany Lions David Macklin (1999), James Boyd (2000), and Alan Zemaitis (2005) are past semifinalists.
Lucas becomes the first Nittany Lion since Justin King in 2007 to earn selection to the Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List. He will be one of the cornerstones of the Penn State defense this season after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten after a breakout 2013 campaign. He started all 12 games and tied for third in the Big Ten with 16 passes defended (1.33 avg.). Lucas tied for the team lead with three interceptions, all of which came in conference play, and led the Nittany Lions with 13 pass breakups.
The metropolitan New York City product was third on the team with 64 tackles, leading the squad with 45 solo stops. He also recorded 4.5 tackles for loss (minus-20), one sack and forced two fumbles. Lucas grabbed his first career interception in the first quarter against No. 18 Michigan, returning it inside the Michigan 15-yard line to set up the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown in the four-overtime victory. He led the team with a career-high 11 stops (seven solo) at No. 4 Ohio State Lucas also made nine stops at Indiana and eight stops vs. Nebraska.
The Jim Thorpe Award watch list is chosen by a screening committee who compile a list of 30-50 players. The list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.
-PSU Athletic Communications
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