STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State All-American defensive back Johnthan Banks was named a semifinalist for both the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award, announced Monday by the Maxwell Football Club and Jim Thorpe Association, respectively. The senior team captain is the first player in school history to be named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given annually to the outstanding defensive player of the year. Banks is also the first player in the history of the MSU program to be named a semifinalist in consecutive seasons for the Thorpe Award, given yearly to the nation's best defensive back.
A midseason All-American by six different media outlets, Banks is tied for seventh in the country with four interceptions in 2012 and ranks second with 16 career picks, which is tied for the school record. For the season, the Senior CLASS Award finalist has been thrown at 41 times in man coverage, allowing just 25 catches for 279 yards (34.9 yards per game).
Named a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy last week, Banks currently ranks first among active players in career interception yards (320), fourth in career interceptions per game (0.36) and is tied for sixth with three interceptions returned for touchdowns. Aided by his play, Mississippi State is sixth in the country in turnover margin, with three of the last four opposing starting quarterbacks recording season lows in passing yards. Along with teammate Darius Slay, the corner duo has registered more combined interceptions (eight) than 62 FBS teams.
Banks and the rest of the No. 17 Bulldogs return to action Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium to host No. 16 Texas A&M in the "Snow Bowl Reunion" game. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT, with ESPN broadcasting the SEC West battle