The Thorpe Award has been presented since 1986 to the best defensive back based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. Recent winners include Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State (2012), Morris Claiborne of LSU (2011), Patrick Peterson of LSU (2010), Eric Berry of Tennessee (2009) and Malcolm Jenkins of Ohio State (2008).

To find out the official winners of college football's major awards, tune in to "The Home Depot College Football Awards" show live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 12. Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Tom Rinaldi and Samantha Ponder will host the show, which will originate from the Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney's Boardwalk at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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The Jim Thorpe Award nominees

Darqueze Dennard: Michigan State's defensive co-captain ranks tied for third in the Big Ten in interceptions (four) and sixth in the conference in passes defended (14). He helps anchor a defense that ranks first in the Big Ten in points allowed and fourth in the nation. The Spartans' pass defense ranks sixth in the country, while the rush defense is first.

Justin Gilbert: The Oklahoma State senior cornerback has returned two of his six picks for touchdowns this season. His outstanding play this season has jumped him to the top of Mel Kiper's list of best cornerbacks in the 2014 NFL draft. He is also a dynamic kick returner, with six career returns for touchdowns and a 26.6 yards-per-return average this season, 17th in the nation.

Lamarcus Joyner: From the defensive backfield, Florida State's senior leads the Seminoles, one of the stingiest defenses in the country, in sacks, with a career-high five. He has played in every game possible in his career, while starting since his sophomore season. Head coach Jimbo Fisher credits Joyner's recruiting class, his first at FSU, as the reason for the team's turnaround.

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