Penn State’s Saquon Barkley Named 2017 Paul Hornung Award Winner
Award Presented Annually to Most Versatile Player in Major College Football
Louisville, Ky. – Wednesday, December 6, 2017 – Penn State third-year junior Saquon Barkley, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Running Back of the Year, and Special Teams Player of the Year, was named winner of the eighth annual Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse. The Louisville Sports Commission and Paul Hornung present the Award to the most versatile player in major college football.
Barkley and his family will be honored on March 7, 2018, at the annual Paul Hornung Award Banquet presented by KentuckyOne Health at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.
Primarily a running back who also lined up at slot receiver, wildcat quarterback, and returned kicks, Barkley is second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 179.5 per game and accounted for 263 touches, 2,190 yards, and 22 touchdowns four different ways – rushing (16), receiving (three), kickoff return (two), and passing (one). He is the second player in Big Ten history to win three major conference awards, joining last year’s Paul Hornung Award winner, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year, Return Specialist of the Year).
“It is an honor to win an award like the Paul Hornung Award for the most versatile player in college football,” Saquon Barkley said. “I am so appreciative of Mr. Hornung and the Louisville Sports Commission for selecting me for this very special honor. I have to give a lot of the credit to my teammates and coaches, they are the reason that I am in position to win this award and I could not have done it without them. I also want to thank our amazing fans at Penn State. We Are!”
A breakaway threat, Barkley is one of five players in FBS this year with all-purpose touchdowns longer than 80 yards – 98-yard and 97-yard kickoff returns, an 85-yard reception, and an 81-yard run from scrimmage. He has 1,134 rushing yards (5.7 average per carry), 594 receiving yards (12.6 average) and 426 return yards (28.4 average) and is no. 5 nationally in total touchdowns (21), no. 7 in scoring per game (10.5), and no. 10 in rushing touchdowns (16). His six Big Ten Player of the Week awards (four on offense, two on special teams) are the most in a single season in conference history, and he is the first running back and third player overall to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year twice, joining Braxton Miller (Ohio State 2012, 2013), and Drew Brees (Purdue 1998, 2000).
“I am thrilled for Saquon to join this elite list of Paul Hornung Award winners,” said Penn State Head Coach James Franklin. “I couldn’t be more proud of Saquon and everything he has accomplished at Penn State. In my 22 years of coaching, I have never coached or seen a player who can affect the game the way Saquon Barkley does. The Hornung Award is not only honoring the most versatile player in college football, but is also recognizing one of the best people in college football.”
Barkley recorded 200+ all-purpose yards in five games this season and set a Penn State record with 358 all-purpose yards on 43 touches in a last-second win at Iowa. He returned opening kickoffs for touchdowns against Indiana and Ohio State, and scored three touchdowns against Michigan. By mid-season, opponent defenses were keying in on Barkley with one or two players on every down, often opening avenues for the Nittany Lions other offensive threats that enabled Penn State to finish the season 10-2 and no. 9 in the national rankings.
“Saquon Barkley has the skills and determination to impact games from several positions,” Paul Hornung said. “He is a team player who performs at the highest level in big games and a fantastic addition to our list of Paul Hornung Award recipients.”
Barkley is finalist for the Maxwell Award for college player of the year, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, and the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s top running back.
Barkley was chosen as the Paul Hornung Award winner from among four finalists by a 17-member national selection committee comprised of sports journalists, coaches, and retired NFL players; online fan voting accounted for the 18th vote. All votes were independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington.
The other 2017 Paul Hornung Award finalists were: Nyheim Hines (NC State); Joel Lanning (Iowa State); and Dante Pettis (Washington).
Jabrill Peppers of Michigan won the award in 2016 by playing 15 different positions on defense, offense and special teams and earning first team All-America at linebacker; Christian McCaffrey of Stanford won the award in 2015 after breaking the NCAA record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864; Shaq Thompson of Washington won the award in 2014 as a two-way player, earning first team All-American honors at linebacker and finishing as the Husky’s second-leading rusher at tailback; Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU won the award in 2013 after finishing the season ranked second in the nation and first in the Southeastern Conference with 2,222 all-purpose yards and 185.2 average yards per game; Tavon Austin of West Virginia won the award in 2012 as one of two players in the nation with more than 500 yards in three different categories (rushing, receiving and kick returns); Brandon Boykin of Georgia won the award in 2011 after excelling on defense, offense and special teams; and Owen Marecic of Stanford, a two-way starter and All Pac-10 performer at fullback and linebacker, won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award in 2010.
Past winners and finalists who have made their mark in the NFL include Peppers (Cleveland Browns), Boykin (Philadelphia /Pittsburgh), Austin (Los Angeles Rams), Beckham Jr. (New York Giants), Thompson (Carolina Panthers), Ole Miss’s Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona Cardinals), Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah (Detroit Lions), Stanford’s Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers), Missouri’s Marcus Murphy (New Orleans Saints), Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews (Tennessee Titans), Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns), Arizona State’s Marion Grice (Arizona Cardinals), Kentucky’s Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers), Oregon’s LaMichael James (Miami Dolphins) and TCU’s Jeremy Kerley (San Francisco 49ers / New York Jets).