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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Darqueze Dennard is an inspiration to any player who feels overlooked in the recruiting process.

Dennard grew up in Georgia, but he left Southeastern Conference territory to play for Michigan State. To hear him tell the story, he didn't have much of a choice. The Spartans gave an opportunity to a young man who had been an afterthought to seemingly everyone else.

Now Dennard is an All-American and the winner of this year's Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back. He and the fourth-ranked Spartans will take on fifth-ranked Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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