Thomas Added to Bednarik Award Watch List

Oct. 25, 2012

By Jason Clay

FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State senior safety Phillip Thomas, the national leader in interceptions, was added Thursday to the Watch List for the Bednarik Award that is presented to college football's defensive player of the year.

The Bednarik Award, presented by the Maxwell Football Club, will announce its semifinalists for the award on Tuesday, Oct. 29 and its finalists on Nov. 19. The winner will be announced on Dec. 6 on The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.

Thomas leads the nation in interceptions and his eight total take-aways (seven interceptions, one fumble recovery) are the most of any FBS player. His seven interceptions are two more than any other player in the country and his take-away tally is also two more than any other player, ahead of Notre Dame linebackerer Manti Te'o who is in second with six.

The Bakersfield, Calif. native has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this year and needs one more pick-6 to tie the NCAA record of four that Cal's Deltha O'Neal set in 1999. Additionally, one more pick-6 for Thomas would give him five in his career, which would also tie the NCAA career record for interceptions returned for a touchdown.

Thomas leads Fresno State (5-3, 3-1 Mountain West) with 52 tackles this year. He has six tackles for a loss and two sacks in addition to four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one quarterback hurry.

His three forced fumbles have him in a tie with a host of players for the second-most in the country.

Thomas and the Bulldogs travel to New Mexico (4-4, 1-2) to face the Lobos on Saturday at University Stadium (12:30 p.m. PT/CSN-California).

With UNM averaging just 12 pass attempts per game, Thomas might not have an opportunity to increase his nation-leading interception total. However, he and the Bulldog defense looks forward to the challenge of facing the Lobo rushing option attack that ranks No. 5 nationally by averaging 297 yards per game.

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