The Jim Thorpe Award watch list, presented annually by the Jim Thorpe Association to the nation's best defensive back, is named after one of history's greatest all-around athletes and based on on-field performance, athletic ability and character.
The watch list is determined by analysis of the preseason All-American teams listed in at least six preseason college football annual magazines. Four points are awarded for first team, three points for second team, two points for third and one point for honorable mention. This procedure determines approximately 30-40 players on the preseason watch list. The list is not final and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.
Sands, a native of Miami, Fla., will again lead the Mountaineers' secondary attack. The safety, named preseason second team All-American by Phil Steele's, returns after leading WVU in 2009 with five interceptions. The all-BIG EAST honoree also ranked fifth on the team with 65 total tackles, including 37 solo stops, and registered 3.5 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups. Sands, tabbed the "Hardest Hitter" by Sporting News, also has been named all-Big East preseason first team by Athlon Sports, Phil Steele, Sporting News and Yahoo! Sports.
A committee of Jim Thorpe Association members will narrow the field to 10 or 12 semi-finalists on the first Monday in November, and will select the three finalists on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The names of these finalists are then submitted to a national panel of about 50 sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner. The finalists are invited to the ESPN College Football Awards Show, where the winner is announced.