Six secondary standouts from football’s work that was:
Juan Thornill, SS, Virginia (NCAA) — It’s possible Virginia senior safety Juan Thornhill hits so hard that some people forget he’s a defensive back and not a linebacker.
Going into this season, Thornhill landed on watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards — both given to the national defensive player of the year — but he didn’t make the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top DB.
When the Cavaliers upset 16th-ranked Miami (Fla.) on Saturday, Thornhill’s biggest hit may have been on the referee that he ran over during a 62-yard interception return that got the Cavaliers inside the 10-yard line.
Thornhill had two interceptions and six tackles in the game and led Virginia’s most impressive defensive effort of the season. The Cavaliers also shut down Louisville in a 27-3 victory on Sept. 22, but Miami is one of the better teams in the nation with a very potent offense.
The Walter Camp Football Foundation named Thornhill the national Defensive Player of the Week. The ACC gave him Defensive Back of the Week honors — so at least they remembered he’s not a linebacker.
Desmond King, CB, Chargers (NFL) — The former Jim Thorpe Award winner from Iowa had two interceptions and two tackles in L.A.’s 38-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Ajene Harris, CB, USC (NCAA) — The Trojans are right back in the Pac-12 title game hunt after Saturday’s 30-21 win over Colorado. Harris, a senior, did his part with seven tackles and an interception that he returned six yards for a score. He tied a school record with the third pick-six of his career.
T.J. McDonald, FS, Dolphins (NFL) — His fourth-quarter interception in the end zone not only kept the Bears from scoring, but it also set up a game-tying touchdown for Miami on their way to a 31-28 overtime victory on Sunday. McDonald also had three tackles.
Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan (NCAA) — The junior cornerback returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown in the Wolverines’ 38-13 rout of Wisconsin on Saturday. The loss effectively knocked the Badgers, once a popular preseason College Football Playoff pick, out of the national title chase.
Josh Norman, CB, Washington (NFL) — All eyes were on Norman as he took on his former team, the Carolina Panthers, the team on which he became famous before a somewhat controversial exit a couple years ago. Norman delivered with five tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in Washington’s 23-17 victory on Sunday.
Pic of the Week: Jason Pinnock of the Pitt Panthers tackles Miles Boykin of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Oct. 13 in South Bend, Ind. The Fighting Irish won 19-14.