Mississippi State May Have the Best Secondary in the Country, But Not One of Its DBs Made the Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List

Despite having a secondary filled with talent, not one Mississippi State player made the preseason watch list for the honors.
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We've heard plenty of talk of just how solid the LSU secondary is, particularly with the cornerback duo of Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks.

But right there in the conversation for one of the best -- if not the best -- secondary in the country is Mississippi State.

Three of the biggest names within it are cornerbacks Emmanuel Forbes and Martin Emerson Jr. and safety Fred Peters. But surprisingly enough, not a single one of those players made the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.

The award is presented annually to the best defensive back in the nation.

Despite the fact their players were snubbed here, there's a lot for Bulldogs fans to be excited about when it comes to their top DBs.

Forbes was named to the 2020 AP All-Bowl Team, made the 2020 Freshman All-SEC Team and was named a True Freshman All-America defensive back after the last season. 

Just a freshman in 2020, he leads all active FBS student-athletes in interception return touchdowns (3), tied for No. 2 in the country in defensive touchdowns (3), tied for No. 8 in non-offensive touchdowns (3) and interception return yards (183).

Emerson was recently named a Preseason All-American by Athlon Sports after recording a standout sophomore season 2021 with 72 total tackles (45 solo) and 11 pass breakups.

According to Pro Football Focus, Emerson led the SEC in the latter category -- something that's difficult to do in such a competitive conference.

Peters, who transferred from Jones County Junior College to play his first game for MSU in 2019, earned his first career start at LSU in 2020, recording six tackles and one pass breakup in that game.

He graded out as the top rush defender (97.0) nationally and earned the fourth-highest defensive grade (91.3) among all defenders in the country according to PFF.

Bulldogs cornerbacks coach Darcel McBath spoke to the importance of having Peters back in the lineup after he suffered an injury.

"I think getting Fred (Peters) back makes a huge difference," he said. "He was out most of the season last year, one of our better safeties."

Emerson and Forbes have already been pinned as first-round prospects for upcoming NFL Drafts, while Peters is expected to continue picking up steam this year.

Here's a look at the complete watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is not final -- players who have "outstanding seasons may be added as the season progresses." 

Tycen Anderson, Toledo, Sr.
Sevyn Banks, Ohio State, Sr.
Jordan Battle, Alabama, Jr.
Bubba Bolden, Miami (FL), Jr.
Andrew Booth, Jr., Clemson, Jr.
Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, Sr.
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati, Sr.
Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern, So.
Jalen Catalon, Arkansas, So.
Kei'Trel Clark, Louisville, So.
Bryce Cosby, Ball State, Sr.
Cortez Davis, Hawaii, Sr.
Greg Eisworth II, Iowa State, Sr.
Kaiir Elam, Florida, Jr.
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati, Jr.
Steven Gilmore, Marshall, Jr.
Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, Jr.
Kolby Harvell-Peel, Oklahoma State, Sr.
Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Texas Christian University, Jr.
Josh Jobe, Alabama, Sr.
Quindell Johnson, Memphis, So.
Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State, Sr.
Marcus Jones, Houston, Jr.
Brandon Joseph, Northwestern, So.
Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State, Sr.
Chase Lucas, Arizona State, Sr.
Trent McDuffie, Washington, Jr.
Smoke Monday, Auburn, Sr.
Tiawan Mullen, Indiana, So.
Jerrick Reed II, New Mexico, Sr.
Eli Ricks, Louisiana State University, So.
Berdale Robins, Nevada, Sr.
Chris Steele, University of Southern California, Jr.
Derek Stingley, Jr., Louisiana State University, Jr.
D'Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
Nolan Turner, Clemson, Sr.
BeeJay Williamson, Louisiana Tech, So.
Rashad Wisdom, University of Texas at San Antonio, Jr.
Samuel Womack, Toledo, Sr.
Mykael Wright, Oregon, So.