The Thorpe Award list for best college defensive back not only includes Patrick Peterson but includes seven defensive backs from LSU's opponents this year. Four of the defensive backs play for two of the non-conference teams that LSU will face. North Carolina has two Thorpe hopefuls: Safety Deunta Williams and Cornerback Kendric Burney. The Thorpe list also includes West Virginia safety Robert Sands and cornerback Brandon Hogan. In conference, LSU will face Alabama safety Mark Barron, Florida safety Will Hill and Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins from this list. This year LSU will face four of the best safeties in college football and three of the best cornerbacks in the country. What is surprising is that out-of-conference foes, North Carolina and West Virginia, have as many Thorpe list nominees as Florida. LSU fans, it could have been worse. If LSU's schedule had included Georgia and South Carolina this year, LSU would have faced two more of college footballs best cornerbacks.
The Bronko Nagurski award, given to the best overall college defensive player, not only includes Patrick Peterson and Kelvin Shepard but, 12 players that LSU will face this year. In LSU's opening game against North Carolina, LSU will face four of the best defensive players in college football: Bruce Carter (LB), Robert Quin (DE), Marvin Austin (DT), and Quan Sturdivant (LB). Alabama has three players on the Nagurski list: Mark Barron (S), Marcell Dareus (DE), and Dont'a Hightower (LB). LSU will face five other teams that have one player considered among the best defensive players in college football when they face: West Virginia (Robert Sands), Vanderbilt (LB-Chris Marve), Florida (Janoris Jenkins), Ole Miss (DT-Jerrell Powe), and Auburn (LB-Craig Stevens). In 7 of the games that LSU plays in 2010 the Tigers will face at least one defensive player considered to be one of the best defenders in college football.
Patrick Peterson and Kelvin Shepard are also on the Lott watch list that includes 5 of their opponent's players: Duenta Williams and Robert Quin from North Carolina, Alabama's Mark Barron, Florida's A.J. Jones and West Virginia's J.T. Thomas.
Finally, LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis has been named to the Outland Award watch list that includes college footballs best defensive tackles, and offensive linemen. There are 7 offensive linemen and 3 defensive tackles that LSU will face from this list. The three defensive tackles are North Carolina's Marvin Austin, Florida's Omar Hunter, and Ole Miss's Jerrell Powe.
After looking at these award watch lists, two points should be clear: 1. LSU will face some outstanding defensive players this year and 2. LSU has not loaded up with weak out-of-conference opponents this year. When LSU faces North Carolina and West Virginia in the first and fourth games of the season, they will be playing against top caliber players similar to what they will see each week in the SEC.