- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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Robert Lester watched as three of his teammates in the University of Alabama secondary left for the NFL last season. All three were drafted, but Lester stayed. Today, his returning experience was recognized as he was named to the Jim Thorpe Award Preseason watch list.
The Thorpe award is handed out annually to the nation's top defensive back. Last season, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne took home the prize. Former teammate Mark Barron was a finalist.
Lester was one of 35 defensive backs nominated for the award this season. Last season, Lester had two picks while starting for the No. 1 defense in the country. In 2010, Lester was voted second-team All-American after he hauled in eight interceptions to lead the SEC.
Antonio Langham is the only former Alabama player to have won the Thorpe Award. He did so in 1993.