Dec. 18, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard was named first-team All-American by two more organizations on Wednesday - the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America - to become MSU's first consensus All-American at cornerback. Dennard was previously named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, CBSSports.com, ESPN, USA TODAY, SI.com, Sporting News and Athlon Sports.
Dennard, who leads the 12-1 Spartans in passes defended (14), pass break-ups (10) and interceptions (4), was presented the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award on the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show. Dennard is the first Spartan to win the award, which has been awarded annually since 1986 to the nation's best defensive back.
The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Dennard previously was selected recipient of the Jack Tatum Award, presented to college football's best defensive back by The Touchdown Club of Columbus. In addition, he was named one of five finalists the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (presented to the nation's top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America).
Dennard is the first MSU cornerback to earn first-team All-America honors since his position coach Harlon Barnett in 1989.
Dennard was chosen the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second year in a row. A unanimous first-team pick by the coaches, he recently was ranked the No. 3 defensive player in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision by CBSSports.com. In addition, Dennard was named Big Ten Defensive MVP by ESPN.com and CollegeFootballNews.com.
He ranks fourth on the team in tackles (59) and fifth in production points (210). Dennard has been credited with 2.5 tackles for losses (6 yards) and ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (tied for third) and passes defended (tied for seventh at 1.08 per game).
Dennard helps anchor a defensive unit that ranks among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in seven different stat categories: rushing defense (first at 80.8 yards per game), total defense (first at 248.2 ypg.), opponent third-down conversions (first at .277; 53-of-191), passing efficiency defense (second with 91.5 rating), scoring defense (fourth at 12.7 points per game), turnover margin (seventh at +1.1 per game) and passing defense (sixth at 167.4 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 13 consecutive weeks.
He recorded three tackles, two pass break-ups and forced a fumble in Michigan State's 34-24 win over No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans limited the Buckeyes to 25 total yards in the fourth quarter, including zero passing yards, as MSU rallied from a 24-20 deficit to claim a BCS berth in the Rose Bowl.
On Senior Day against Minnesota in his last appearance at Spartan Stadium, Dennard tied his career high with nine tackles and also broke up a pass.
He recorded a career-best nine tackles and an interception in MSU's 30-6 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans claimed the Big Ten Legends Division title for the second time in three seasons. It marked Dennard's personal best fourth interception of the season and 10th of his career. MSU's defense pitched a shutout in the second half against the Wildcats while allowing just seven first downs and 95 total yards.
Dennard produced an impressive all-around effort in the win over No. 23 Michigan, as MSU held the Wolverines out of the end zone for the second consecutive season. He picked off a Devin Gardner pass at the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter, and the Spartans proceeded to march 97 yards on an eight-play touchdown drive to seal the 29-6 victory. Dennard also forced a fumble and collected four tackles against the Wolverines.
He posted seven tackles in Michigan State's 14-0 victory over Purdue, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard). MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern).
Dennard totaled five tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass break-up in MSU's 42-28 Homecoming win over Indiana, as the Spartans limited IU to season lows in passing offense (259 yards) and total offense (351). The Hoosiers entered the game ranked ninth in the nation in total offense (535.0 ypg.) and 10th in passing offense (346.0 ypg.).
Dennard was selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording eight tackles and a career-high two interceptions in MSU's 26-14 win at Iowa. The Spartan defense limited the Hawkeyes to 264 total yards - 183 yards below their season average. In addition, MSU held Iowa to 23 yards rushing (1.4 yards per carry) - 221 yards below its season average. Michigan State shut out the Hawkeyes in the second half, as Iowa managed just six first downs, 6 rushing yards and 104 total yards in the final two quarters. Dennard's second interception at the 5:25 mark in the fourth quarter helped ice the game, and it marked the third multi-interception game of his career (2012 Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, 2012 vs. Nebraska).
The Dry Branch, Ga., native was credited with five tackles, including a half tackle for loss (2 yards), a QB hurry and two pass break-ups in MSU's 21-6 victory over South Florida. In the season opener, Dennard matched his career-high with three pass break-ups in MSU's 26-13 win over Western Michigan.
Dennard is in his third season as a starting cornerback for the Spartans. He has collected 164 tackles and 30 passes defended (20 pass break-ups, 10 interceptions) in 43 career games, including 39 starts (28 consecutive). Dennard has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl.