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Five Mountain West Players Land on Thorpe Award Watch List

The award for the nation's top defensive back didn't skew in any one conference's favor, which becomes the conference's gain.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

As our week wraps up, the Jim Thorpe Award becomes the latest to unveil its group of players to watch.  If you can believe it, the Mountain West is better represented than the SEC on today's particular reveal.

The group is led by (surprise, surprise) Fresno State's Derron Smith, who has already made appearances on the lists for the Lott IMPACT, Bednarik and Nagurski awards.  San Diego State's J.J. Whittaker is the other defensive back from the West division to make the cute.  In 2013, the senior Whittaker had 14 passes defenses and three interceptions to lead the Aztecs.  He'll be counted upon to improve and may be the best corner back in the conference.

His competition also found its way onto the Thorpe list, though.  Boise State's Donte Deayon is joined by fellow Bronco Jeremy Ioane, making the boys in blue and orange one of just four teams (Central Florida, Florida State and Michigan State being the others) to land two players.  Deayon finished with six interceptions last season, second only to Smith in the MWC, while Ioane had a relatively quiet year with 59 tackles to his credit.  Both were second-team all-conference selections.

The last player to make the cut is Utah State's Brian Suite.  He hauled in five interceptions and finished with 77 tackles in 2013, and will be a leader in the Aggies' untested defensive backfield this year.