Deandre Baker had a great season for the Georgia Bulldogs, and has racked a number of awards and accolades for his play. But on Thursday night ,he received the highest honor a defensive back can get, as he won the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back.
Baker is the first Georgia defensive back to ever win the award. The senior cornerback ended the season with two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and a forced fumble. He often also had the duty of covering the opposing team’s top wide receiver. The other finalists for the award were Notre Dame’s Julian Love and LSU’s Greedy Williams. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick won the award last season.
As for his NFL draft prospects, ESPN’s Todd McShay raved about Baker and his potential earlier this week.
“This dude is one of the more instinctive corners I’ve evaluated in years, and he is so tough for his size,” McShay said. “Those are often the most overlooked traits when looking at corners. Again, Williams is ranked a little higher, but I’m betting on Baker to become a really good NFL starter.”
On Wednesday, Baker also announced that he does plan on playing in Georgia’s bowl game against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Baker is widely expected to be a first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and it wouldn’t have been uncommon for him to skip the bowl. Williams is doing just that for LSU, as he will not play in the Fiesta Bowl against Central Florida.
It’s the second year in a row that a Georgia player has taken home a prestigious national award, as former Bulldog Roquan Smith won the 2017 Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.
Baker arrived on campus as a 3-star prospect out of Miami with the 2015 class, which was Mark Richt’s final year at Georgia. The senior cornerback was also Georgia’s lone representative on the AP’s All-SEC First Team.
Baker will play in his final collegiate game on Jan. 1 when the Bulldogs take on Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The game is set to kickoff at 8:45 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.
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