LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Mississippi State All-American defensive back Johnthan Banks was named the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner Thursday night at the Atlantic Dance Hall at the Boardwalk Hotel and Resort at Walt Disney World. The award, given annually to the top defensive back in college football, is the first individual national award for an MSU player in the 113-year history of the program.
"First of all, it's a blessing from God to be given this opportunity," Banks said. "I want to first thank the Jim Thorpe Association. It's kind of shocking. There are so many great defensive backs in the country and this is all just a dream to me."
Banks, also named a Walter Camp All-American Thursday, took home the award after posting 59 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions, 2.0 tackles for loss, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery in 2012. Among active players in the FBS, the senior team captain ranks first in career interception yards (320), is tied for third with 16 career interceptions, is tied for sixth in interceptions returned for touchdowns (3), ranks eighth in interceptions per game (0.32) and is tied for eighth with 26 career pass breakups.
"Four years ago, Johnthan Banks made a decision to stay at home and represent the people of Mississippi," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "What a tremendous honor for a young man from Maben, Miss., to be honored with the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football. It is something special for the entire state of Mississippi."
For more information on Banks and the Bulldogs' appearance in the 2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateFB and like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MstateFB.