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Will Johnson makes Jim Thorpe Award watch list

The sophomore is in early consideration for the nation’s top defensive back award.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Michigan sophomore cornerback Will Johnson has been put on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive back.

Johnson, a former five-star recruit out of Grosse Pointe impressed down the stretch last year and is already considered by some to be one of the very best defensive backs in all of college football. He appeared in all 14 of Michigan’s games in 2022 and made 27 tackles and three interceptions. Johnson earned a share of Michigan’s Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, along with defensive tackle Mason Graham.

Johnson will be key fixture in what figures to be one of the best defensive backfields in all of college football, and will make life difficult for opposing passing attacks. His efforts will be an integral part of Michigan’s chase for a third consecutive conference title and College Football playoff berth. He’ll need to live up to expectations for Michigan to be successful on defense following departures from DJ Turner and Gemon Green.

Charles Woodson is Michigan’s lone Thorpe Award winner, taking home the honor in 1997.