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Verone McKinley III Named Finalist For Paycom Jim Thorpe Award

The veteran defensive back has been the face of the Oregon secondary for much of 2021.

Oregon safety Verone McKinley III has been named a finalist for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. 

Other finalists for the award include Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant and Baylor safety Jalen Pitre. 

McKinley is in his fourth season with the Ducks and has developed into one of the conference's top defensive backs. He's started all 11 games this season for Oregon and currently leads the Pac-12 in interceptions with five, which is also tied for the national lead.

Four of his five interceptions came in September, when the Ducks defeated Fresno State, Ohio State, Stony Brook and Arizona.

He's No. 2 on the Oregon defense in tackles with 61 total tackles, which ranks third among Pac-12 defensive backs. 

McKinley exited Oregon's game against Utah last week with an injury and did not return, but he's expected to play in the Ducks' regular season finale at home against the Oregon State Beavers. 

The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award will be announced on Dec. 6 at the Home Depot College Football Awards.

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