Arizona senior cornerback Antoine Cason was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award Thursday night at the 17th Annual ESPN College Awards Show in Orlando, Fla.
Cason, who eschewed an opportunity in the 2006 NFL draft to return to Arizona for his senior season, becomes the second Wildcat to be honored with the award and the third player in Pacific-10 history. Arizona cornerback Darryll Lewis won the award in 1990.
The award, presented annually to the nation's best college defensive back, is one of college football's most sought-after and prestigious awards. Thorpe Award winners are selected by the Jim Thorpe Association for performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The association supports a broad range of civic and charity activities in honor of American Indian professional football legend Jim Thorpe.
A two-time team captain, Cason wrapped up his final season in Tucson with a team-high five interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 71 total tackles. He scored two touchdowns on interception returns and two more on punt returns in 2007 to become Arizona's fourth-leading scorer for the year, despite not playing on offense.
Cason, who also was named the first Walter Camp First-Team All-American at the UA since 1999 on Thursday, wrapped up his four-year Wildcat career fourth all-time in Arizona history with 15 interceptions, including three for touchdowns, 32 passes defended and 253 total tackles. He started all 46 games in his career and missed only a handful of snaps in games that had already been decided.
A strong contributor to the Tucson community, Cason started the Cason Cares campaign this fall and recently presented a check for $5,000 to the American Cancer Society in memory of his grandfather, Royce Rambo, who lost his battle with the disease last February.
A political science major, Cason is scheduled to graduate in May.