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Western Michigan's Donald Celiscar, Bowling Green's Ryland Ward Named To 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List

A pair of physical MAC safeties are on the 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few months ago the Mid-American Conference watched as one of its very own defensive backs went in the first round of the NFL Draft. Fast forward a few months, and a pair of MAC defensive backs are being honored as some of the best currently playing college football.

The 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List was announced Friday morning and Western Michigan's Donald Celiscar and Bowling Green's Ryland Ward both made the list of 39 defensive backs on this year's list.

The Jim thorpe Award, established in 1986, is awarded annually to the nation's top defensive back, as determined by the National College Football Awards Association.

Celiscar, a senior at WMU, is coming off a Second Team All-MAC season in 2013. The Winter Haven, Florida native had three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 60 tackles this past season. Now entering his fourth season as a start (he started four games as a true freshman), Celiscar has accumulated  six career interceptions, 28 career pass break ups, and 184 career tackles.

Ward, a senior free safety at Bowling Green, also made the list. Playing opposite of former Falcon Booboo Gates in the secondary in 2013, Ward racked up 81 total tackles, good enough for second on Bowling Green's loaded defense. He also forced a fumble, recovered two,  had two interceptions and seven passes defended as a true sophomore. Having started in every game of his career, Ward has 207 career tackles entering this fall.

Three finalists will be determined upon the season's conclusion, with the 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Winner being announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec., 11, 2014 on ESPN.