Notre Dame senior safety Zeke Motta was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award today.
Motta was one of 15 semifinalists selected for the award given annually to college football's top defensive back.
Motta ranks second on the Irish with 42 tackles and has added two pass breakups this year. Beyond his personal statistics, Motta has been the leader of a secondary that was ravaged by injuries in the offseason and beginning of the season. He has helped break in three new starters in the defensive backfield and led Notre Dame to become one of the top defenses in the country.
The Irish rank No. 11 in pass efficiency defense and the 13 interceptions in eight games this year ranks eighth nationally. Opponents are completing 57.4 percent of passes this year and only one team has passed for more than 201 yards against Notre Dame.
The Thorpe Award is named after Jim Thorpe and presented by the Jim Thorpe Association in Oklahoma City. The three Thorpe finalists will be named on Nov. 19 and the winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 6. The winner of the 2012 Thorpe Award will be honored at a banquet in Oklahoma City on Feb. 5, 2013.
2012 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists
Johnthan Banks, Sr., Mississippi State
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
Matt Elam, Jr., Florida
Tony Jefferson, Jr., Oklahoma
Nigel Malone, Sr., Kansas State
Dexter McCoil, Sr., Tulsa
T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
Dee Milliner, Jr., Alabama
Zeke Motta, Sr., Notre Dame
Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
Eric Reid, Jr., LSU
Xavier Rhodes, Jr., Florida State
Bradley Roby, So., Ohio State
Logan Ryan, Jr., Rutgers
Phillip Thomas, Sr., Fresno State