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Pitt S Brandon Hill Named to 2022 Thorpe Award Preseason Watchlist



When head coach Pat Narduzzi looks at the duo of Brandon Hill and Erick Hallett in the Pitt secondary, he sees a little bit of Paris Ford and Damar Hamlin in his current safety duo. Hill is the vocal leader, and Hallett the quiet leader.

Hill, who enters the 2022 season as Pitt’s starting boundary safety for the second season, also shoulders high expectations in the form of being named to the 2022 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watchlist — the award given to college football’s best defensive back.

Hill was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award last season after racking up 81 tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, two interceptions, six pass breakups and a forced fumble and recovery. He earned second-team All-ACC honors, and the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Florida native has emerged as one of Pitt’s defensive leaders.

A key leader during Pitt’s spring practices, marshaling the secondary under secondary coach Archie Collins and safeties coach Cory Sanders, he even spurned potential NIL opportunities elsewhere and doubled down on his commitment to Pitt.

With the loss of Damarri Mathis to the NFL, Pitt’s defense lost its top corner, but the aggressive style of defense played under Narduzzi will continue to roll on regardless, and Hill’s place as Pitt’s top safety will be pivotal in a season in which Pitt plays a variety of top quarterbacks from the ACC and around college football.

Hill is joined on the Thorpe Award watchlist by 34 of the very best defensive backs in college football, including Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark, Clemson’s Andrew Mukuba and Florida State’s Jammie Robinson.

A list of 15 semifinalists, which is as far as Hill reached last season, will be announced in October by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, and three finalists will be selected by the same committee on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

The winner of the 2022 Thorpe Award will be announced at ESPN’s College Football Awards in December.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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