Abdullah Named Thorpe Award Candidate

Safety Muhammad Abdullah is a candidate for the 2000 Thorpe Award.
Safety Muhammad Abdullah is a candidate for the 2000 Thorpe Award.

Aug. 25, 2000

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois football player Muhammad Abdullah has been named as a candidate for the 2000 Thorpe Award, as announced by the Jim Thorpe Association, Friday afternoon.

The Thorpe Award, which honors the nation's top collegiate defensive back, announced its preliminary list of 40 candidates after considering over 70 athletes for the award,. Abdullah, the junior free safety, is one of only four Big Ten players selected to the list which includes Wisconsin's Jamar Fletcher and Jason Doering and Michgan State's Renaldo Hill. Abdullah, who is an all-Big Ten candidate, is making his first appearance on the list.

Abdullah is a two-year starter for the Illini as a junior and led the team in interceptions with five picks and 52 return yards. His defensive efforts, which also include recovering four fumbles, helped lead the Illini to a No. 2 national ranking in turnover margin. With his interception, Abdullah led the Illini in total tackles in the 63-21 win over Virginia in the Bowl.

The Thorpe Award, which began in 1986, has boasted Big Ten winners in each of the past three years with Minnesota's Tyrone Carter taking top honors in 1999. Antoine Winfield of Ohio State won in 1998 and Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson of Michigan stole the award in 1997.

Finalists will be invited to ESPN's College Football Award Show at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Where the winner will be announced Dec. 7