Elam Named to Thorpe Watch List

Big things are expected of Matt Elam in 2011

With the loss of a shutdown cornerback in Janoris Jenkins from the Florida secondary, the Gators need consistency on the back end of the defense this season. Florida hopes it will come from safety Matt Elam, who was named to the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award watch list on Monday by the National College Football Awards Association.

Matt Elam served mostly as the backup for strong safety Ahmad Black last season, but the former five-star recruit is expected to start at the position this season. Elam also saw action as the nickel back in 2010.

As a freshman last year, Elam was one of six true freshmen to play in all 13 games. He finished the season with 22 tackles (16 solo) to lead the backup secondary members. Elam was also a key part of the kickoff coverage unit.

Elam's best game came against Alabama. He recorded a career-high five tackles and one quarterback sack that ended the Crimson Tide's first drive and held them to a field goal.

Joe Haden was the last player from Florida to be named a semifinalist after he was selected in 2009. Lawrence Wright was the only Florida player to win the award, receiving it in 1996.

The Thorpe Award is given to the top defensive back in college football. Elam is one of 37 players named to the watch list. The winner will be announced on December 8 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

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