Safety is first Huskie to contend for prestigious honor
Presented to the top defensive back in the country, the Jim Thorpe Award was established in 1986 and is named after one of the greatest all-around athletes in history.
Ward is the first Huskie to be named a semifinalist for the award.
Ward, who leads the nation in interceptions with a career-high five picks on the season, has been instrumental in the success of the Huskies in 2013. His interception late in the fourth quarter of the season opener at Iowa set up the game-winning field goal over the Hawkeyes.
A few weeks later, against another Big Ten foe, he returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown in the Huskies’ 55-24 victory Purdue. The Huskie safety had a stretch of four straight games in which he had an interception this season.
The Huskies’ leading tackler, Ward has made 55 tackles on the season on the season, including 36 solo stops. In addition to his five interceptions, he has three pass break ups and a forced fumble.
During his career, Ward, who returned a block punt for a touchdown as a freshman, is responsible for 17 turnovers – nine interceptions, four blocked punts, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery – in which NIU has converted into 60 points.
The Huskies are back in action Saturday, Nov. 2, when NIU plays travels to Foxboro, Mass. to face UMass.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT and the ESPN Regional broadcast will air locally on WPWR My Network TV in Chicago and on MyNetworkTV Rockford (DT2) as well as in 15 other markets throughout the Midwest and beyond. The game will also be carried on ESPN GamePlan and on ESPN3.