Announced today, Florida Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam has been selected to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, an award that is given to the top cornerback in the nation following the conclusion of the season.
Elam, a true junior this season, will be Florida's top cornerback after earning the No. 1 role last season entering his sophomore season. He has quickly become the team's leader among a young secondary and will look to take his talents to new heights as he enters what will likely be his last season with the Orange and Blue.
Elam will be among 39 other top defensive backs, representing 10 conferences and one independent.
Last season, Elam accounted for 39 tackles (28 solo), 11 pass breakups and two interceptions, starting all 12 games during the year. He has also been added to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List and Preseason All-SEC Second Team. The Bednarik Award is given to the top defender in the nation regardless of position.
Elam was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe award just last season.
"The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is awarded to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character.
"The award was established in 1986 and is named after Jim Thorpe, who excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon."
Earlier this year, Gators cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar made note of Elam's skills, saying the sky's the limit for the young defensive back heading into his junior season.
“I think the sky’s the limit in terms of his potential. First off, the kid’s very coachable. I love his attitude," said Montinar. "He comes to work every day. Since Day 1 his attitude’s been awesome in the room. Has great leadership qualities. He comes in. He writes notes. He asks questions.
"One of the first things we did right when I got here was start watching the point-of-attack tape, all of the plays that he was involved in from this past season, we just started watching then and finding ways we could improve and finding a way to improve the really good plays and try to make them great."
There's no telling where Elam will ultimately land on the list of top cornerbacks, but the Gators look to send a defensive back to the NFL following this season for yet another year. Elam will most certainly be the best of the bunch, heading off to the NFL as the team's top cornerback.