With just 12 days to go until kick-off against North Dakota State we’re at jersey #12 and my favorite returning player, free safety Ty Zimmerman (although Meshak Williams held that role for me in 2012). Zimmerman is among the most decorated players for the team and may be the most likely to hold All-American status at the end of the year. Here’s a quick look at his preseason honor roll:
- Team Captain
- Jim Thorpe Award Watch List (top defensive back in college football)
- Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List (defensive player of the year)
- Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List (defensive player of the year)
- Bronko Nagurski Award Watch List (defensive player of the year)
- Second Team All-American (Phil Steele; Athlon Sports; Sports Illustrated)
- First Team All-Big 12 (Dallas Morning News; Media; The Sporting News)
Yeah, Zimmerman enters his senior year with some expectations on his shoulders. A Second Team All-American selection by CBSSports last year and Third Team selection by the Associated Press, Zimmerman was having a stellar season with five interceptions in Big 12 play before going down with a leg injury against TCU (he would miss the games against Baylor and Texas but returned for the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon.
Zimmerman had an impressive showing last year with 50 tackles – three for loss – to go along with two fumble recoveries, seven passes defended, and two broken up throws. With the defense relatively depleted following several losses to graduation, he will be expected to step up in a big way in 2013. The front seven may take some time to adjust with opposing offenses testing it early and often with a variety of running plays, requiring Zimmerman to help in run support. However, he’ll also be needed in pass coverage with a less experienced secondary. Yes, he may be expected to be everywhere this year. Yet Zimmerman is one player capable of being seemingly everywhere on the field, diagnosing plays quickly and knowing where he needs to be to best break up the play.
Ty Zimmerman broke on to the national level last year in a big way, receiving several postseason awards despite not being able to play the full season. Assuming he’s able to stay healthy this year, he’s a legitimate Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country.