Bulldogs’ Williamson makes Thorpe watch list: Tech sets soccer slate

Louisiana Tech’s BeeJay Williamson is on the 2021 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List, for an award given to college football’s best defensive back.

This list includes 40 of the nation’s best defensive backs, representing 10 conferences and one independent. The preseason watch list is selected by a screening committee whose members compile a list of up to 50 players. This list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons may be added as the season progresses. The award is presented by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame (OSHOF) and the Jim Thorpe Association.

Williamson was named to the 2021 Conference USA Preseason Watch List after earning first team all-Conference USA honors by both the league and Phil Steele in 2020.

The native of Dallas finished the 2020 season third on the team with 56 total tackles, including 32 solo, while also registering 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, three interceptions, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

Williamson was an honorable mention for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week in 2020 after he registered two interceptions against UAB (Oct. 31) and forced a fumble at the goal line to give LA Tech the game-winning possession. The sophomore defensive back registered multiple tackles in every game of the 2020 campaign.

Williamson was one of three Conference USA players to earn a spot on the watch list as he was joined by Marshall’s Steven Gilmore and UTSA’s Rashad Wisdom.

A preseason watch list is compiled by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame based on previous performance and preseason All-America lists. A screening committee consisting of OSHOF members monitor the watch list players and narrow the field to 10 to 15 semifinalists in October. This committee reconvenes on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select three award finalists. The three finalists are submitted to a national panel of over 250 sports writers, sportscasters, former players and coaches who vote to determine the winner of the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award.

The winner will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show. Other recognized National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) awards announced include the Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award, Mackey Award, Rimington Trophy, Lou Groza Award, Ray Guy Award, Bronko Nagurski Award, Outland Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Biletnikoff Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award.

SOCCER: Louisiana Tech interim head coach Steve Voltz has set his squad’s 2021 schedule, which includes eight home matches at the new Robert Mack Caruthers Field.

LA Tech will play 17 total matches with nine non-conference games followed by eight Conference USA games. The season is slated to start on Aug. 20 when the Lady Techsters open their new facility against East Texas Baptist.

“We have achieved a pretty decent balance of challenging road and home contests in order to prepare us for the tough C-USA schedule,” said Voltz. “With the conference going to eight games now, we will be challenged every week, including games versus both tournament finalists from last season.”

The team will play the next three matches on the road against Murray State, Louisiana College and McNeese State before rounding out the month by hosting defending Southland Conference champion Southeastern Louisiana on Aug. 29.

LA Tech will travel to take on Northwestern State on Sept. 1 and Missouri State on Sept. 5 before closing out non-conference action at home against Sam Houston on Sept. 10 and Little Rock on Sept. 12.

C-USA is split up into two divisions like last season. The Lady Techsters will face all six opponents from the West Division and two opponents from the East Division.

The 2021 C-USA Women’s Soccer Tournament will be hosted by FIU in Miami on Nov. 1-7.

For the first time in program history, all home matches will be ticketed.

PHOTO:  by Tim Smith.

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