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Bryant and Gardner Semifinalists for Thorpe Award




Zach Stipe

Zach Stipe

Employee AD / Communications

OKLAHOMA CITY Cincinnati cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner were both named semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award on Monday.

Only 12 players were named on the list as the best candidates for the award for the best defense in the country.

Bryant, a senior, and Gardner, a junior, were leaders for a second-ranked Bearcats squad that jumped to a 7-0 record behind the nation’s best pass defense.

UC is number 1 in the nation in defense in passing efficiency (89.72), number 1 in opponent’s completion percentage (50.7%), number 3 in interceptions (12), number 3 in yards per attempt (5, 2), No. 1.3 in TDs Allowed (4) and No. 7 in Pass Defense (163.7). Cincinnati is also third in defense in scoring (14.6) and fourth in red zone defense (61.9%, 13 out of 21).

Bryant and Gardner have two interceptions each this season.

Bryant’s 11 defended passes rank third in the nation in 2021 and his 42 defended career passes ranks third among active players. He has nine career interceptions. The Cleveland, Ohio native was a 2020 First Team All-AAC roster who chose to return for his fifth season this fall.

Gardner has only allowed nine completions all season and has two interceptions and two pass breakups. He has never allowed a touchdown in his career, with over 850 coverage shots. The Detroit, Michigan native was named a midseason All-American by Associated Press, ESPN, The Athletic, Sporting News, and CBS Sports. He is a two-time All-AAC First Team roster and was a 2020 First Team All-American by USA Today and the Football Writers Association of America.

It’s the second consecutive season that a Bearcat has been on the semi-finalist list after safety James Wiggins was awarded the honor in 2020.

The Jim Thorpe Award is based on field performance, athleticism and character. The twelve semifinalists on this year’s list represent six conferences and are selected by a screening committee. The three finalists will be announced on November 23rd and the prize will be awarded to the winner on December 9th The Home Deport College Football Awards Show.


Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, Sr.
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati, Sr.

Lewis Cine, Georgia, Jr.
Jaylan Foster, South Carolina, Redshirt Sr.
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati, Jr.

Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, Jr.
Matt Hankins, Iowa, Sr.
Brandon Hill, Pittsburgh, Redshirt So.
Verone McKinley III, Oregon, So.
Ja’Quan McMillian, East Carolina, So.
Riley Moss, Iowa, Sr.
Jalen Pitre, Baylor, Sr.

By conference

AAC (3), ACC (1), BIG TEN (3), BIG 12 (1), IND (1), PAC-12 (1), SEC (2)


Senior Defensive Gear Curtis Brooks collected career highs in tackles (10) and tackles for loss (3.0) to lead Cincinnati past Navy, 27-20, on Saturday. The fifth-year senior from Danville, Virginia, was a standout on the Bearcats’ defense line in 2021, scoring a total of 28 tackles and 6.5 TFLs, including 2.5 sacks, over seven games.


Cincinnati remains en route for a game at 12:00 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT in Tulane in New Orleans, La. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2.


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