Dry Branch native Darqueze Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award Thursday as the best defensive back in college football.
Dennard, a senior at Michigan State, accepted the award on ESPN at a college football awards show.
A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Dennard intercepted four passes this season to help lead the Spartans to the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl appearance. He has 10 career interceptions and 20 pass breakups.
Earlier Thursday, Dennard was named a Walter Camp All-American, giving him a second All America selection after landing on USA Today's team.
Dennard was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and earned a unanimous selection by the coaches to the All-Big Ten team. He was also ranked as the No. 3 defensive player in college football by CBSSports.com.
He was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy that goes to the nation’s best defensive player. After playing in the Rose Bowl, Dennard will head to the Senior Bowl. He is projected as a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Dennard came to Michigan State after a standout prep career at Twiggs County.
He was an all-state selection as a receiver and defensive back and earned All-Middle Georgia honors as a kick returner.
He caught 11 touchdowns as a senior to lead the Cobras to the state quarterfinals. He caught 17 touchdown passes as a junior.
Despite the standout production, Dennard largely went unnoticed by colleges until Michigan State coaches noticed him while recruited Dooly County’s Keith Mumphrey.