OKLAHOMA CITY — Arkansas redshirt freshman DB Jalen Catalon has been named one of 12 finalists for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, which honors the nation’s best defensive back, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame announced Monday.
Catalon leads all FBS freshmen with 89 total tackles and 48 solo tackles, while adding 2.0 tackles for loss, four passes broken up, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and three interceptions. He is the only player in the country to have 85 or more tackles and three interceptions this season and become the first Razorback to pick off a pass in back-to-back games since at least 1997. His three total interceptions are tied for second most in the SEC. Catalon returned his first career interception 35 yards for a touchdown in Arkansas’ 33-21 win over Ole Miss.
Catalon is the first SEC freshman since 2007 SEC Freshman of the Year and All-American Eric Berry to record at least 86 tackles and three interceptions in a season. He averages 9.9 tackles per game, the conference’s fifth-best mark, and the second-most solo tackles per game in the league (5.3). Against LSU, the Mansfield, Texas product registered his fifth 10+ tackle game of the year, making a career-high 16 stops with 1.5 tackles for loss.
The redshirt freshman garnered SEC Defensive Player of the Week and Thorpe Award Player of the Week honors against Tennessee, making 12 tackles with an interception and forced fumble in Arkansas’ 24-13 win. He is also on the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American Watch List.
Thorpe Award Semifinalists
Bubba Bolden, Miami (Fla.)
Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
Kaiir Elam, Florida
Richie Grant, UCF
Allie Green IV, Tulsa
Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State
Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Tykee Smith, West Virginia
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Shaun Wade, Ohio State
James Wiggins, Cincinnati
The 2020 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show Presented by Gildan, Thursday, January 7, 2021, from 6-7:30 p.m. CT, live on ESPN. The Thorpe Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 since 1935.
The Hogs host Alabama on Saturday, Dec. 12 in the regular season finale. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. and air on ESPN.