Winton Woods grad, Miami CB, Ohio State CB on Thorpe watch list

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, file photo, Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams (7) pulls in a catch as Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward (12) defends during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff game in Glendale, Ariz. Two of Clemson's most critical pieces last year were not on the field when the Tigers faced Alabama. This time, Mike Williams is back from injury and Deon Cain has kept himself straight after getting sent home during last year's postseason. Both are ready to make an impact against the Crimson Tide on Monday night. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - University of Kentucky junior safety Mike Edwards, who is a Winton Woods High School graduate, Miami senior cornerback Heath Hardinh and Ohio State junior cornerback Denzel Ward are among the 45 defensive backs selected to 2017 Jim Thorpe Award watch list.

The Jim Thorpe Award is given to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled not only as a running back, passer, and kicker on the offensive side of the ball; but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.

The Jim Thorpe Award watch list was chosen by a screening committee who compiles a list of 30-50 players. The list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.

Edwards started all 13 games last season and was second-team AP All-SEC. He led all SEC defensive backs in tackles with 100 and finished second on UK's team in interceptions with three, including two of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the win over Louisville.

Harding was a first-team All-MAC performer last season when he finished with 67 tackles, 6.5 for loss, four interceptions and 11 pass break-ups. This is Harding’s third preseason award in less than a week. Earlier, he was named to the Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski Watch Lists.

Ward was part of a cornerback rotation last season that featured two first-round NFL Draft picks. He played in all 13 games and tied for the team lead with nine pass break-ups.

The Thorpe Award Winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, on ESPN. The Jim Thorpe Award Banquet will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Oklahoma.

The Jim Thorpe Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 23 awards now boast over over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.

The National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football, are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 12-day period this month. Seventeen of the association's 23 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award's preseason candidates.

Following is the entire 2017 preseason watch list calendar:

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