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Notre Dame Football: Julian Love Named Among Top Defensive Backs to Watch for Jim Thorpe Award

Love is just the third player named to the Thorpe watch list during Brian Kelly’s tenure.

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Julian Love has stood between many quarterbacks and their intended targets.

The junior-to-be has broken up 23 passes in his career, which already puts him sixth in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s record book. Last year, he returned three interceptions for 153 yards — second most by an Irish player in a season ever — and two of them for touchdowns (also a season record).

The Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back, recognized Love’s outstanding sophomore season by naming him to this year’s watch list for their award. Love is one of 35 players named, and the only one from an independent school.

An Irish player has never won the Thorpe Award, which was established in 1986. (Harrison Smith and Max Redfield were named to the 2011 and 2015 watch lists, respectively.) The selection committee includes former recipients, journalists covering college football nationwide and members of the National College Football Awards Association.

The list includes three players from two opponents on Notre Dame’s 2018 schedule: Michigan WolverinesLavert Hill (a junior) and USC’s Iman Marshall and Marvel Tell (both seniors).

The winner will be selected from three finalists and announced during the Dec. 6 college football awards show on ESPN. Minkah Fitzpatrick, then of the Alabama Crimson Tide and now of the Miami Dolphins, won the award last year.