IOWA CITY, Iowa —University of Iowa senior defensive backs Matt Hankins and Riley Moss have been named semifinalists for the 2021 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, awarded to the best defensive back in college football. The announcement was made Monday by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Three finalists will be selected on Nov. 23, with the winner being announced Dec. 9 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The official presentation of the Thorpe Award takes place in Oklahoma City on Feb. 8, 2022.
Hankins (6-0, 185) has started 34 straight games in the Iowa secondary and has recorded three interceptions and 25 tackles as a senior in 2021. He was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week, the Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Conference Player of the Week, the Bronko Nagurski national Defensive Player of the Week, and the Thorpe Award Player of the Week following Iowa’s 23-20 win over No. 4 Penn State.
Hankins had five tackles and a fourth quarter interception in Iowa’s win over Penn State. He had two interceptions in Iowa’s 27-17 win at No. 9 Iowa State. Hankins has six career interceptions and 193 career tackles. Hankins has been named a midseason first-team All-American by the Associated Press and CBSSports.com, and a second team selection by The Athletic. He was also recognized by the Thorpe Award following his play in Iowa’s win at Iowa State.
Moss (6-1, 194) is tied for second in the country and leads the Big Ten with four interceptions, despite missing Iowa’s most recent game due to injury. Moss had two interceptions returns for touchdowns in Iowa’s opening win over Indiana. He has 10 career interceptions, with three returned for touchdowns.
Moss collected his fourth interception of the season in Iowa’s win over Penn State, before suffering a knee injury just before halftime of that contest. Moss was named a first-team midseason All-American by Sporting News.
Iowa leads the nation with 16 interceptions, while Moss leads the nation in interceptions per game. Moss is tied for second with four interceptions and Hankins is tied for seventh with three thefts.
Iowa’s Desmond King won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and was a semifinalist the following season. Josh Jackson was a finalist for the award in 2017.
Iowa (6-1, 3-1) returns to action Saturday at Wisconsin (11 a.m., ESPN). The Hawkeyes are ranked ninth in the current Associated Press rankings and 10th in the AFCA coaches poll.