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46 Players Named to 2017 Paul Hornung Award Watch List

Players accounted for over 46,000 all-purpose yards, 394 tackles and 291 TDs in 2016

Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse to Sponsor Award for Seventh Year

Louisville, Ky. — July 17, 2017 — The Louisville Sports Commission today named 46 multi-talented college football players to the 2017 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse.

The Paul Hornung Award, now in its eighth season, is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission, and football legend and Louisville native Paul Hornung. The winner and his family will be honored at the annual Paul Hornung Award Banquet presented by KentuckyOne Health, to be held at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville on March 8, 2018. This will be The Paul Hornung Award’s second year as an associate member of the prestigious National College Football Awards Association.

This year’s Watch List selectees will have big shoes to fill. All four of the 2016 Paul Hornung Award Finalists were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft; the five most recent winners all were drafted in the first round in their respective years.

“We have a terrific Watch List again this year,” said Paul Hornung, namesake of the Award, who legendary Coach Vince Lombardi called “the most versatile man ever to play the game.” “I love the fact that we recognize players who have the skill and the right mind set to play anyplace on the field to help their team win games.”

The 2017 Watch List is comprised of one graduate student, 23 seniors, 19 juniors, and three sophomores who play a total of nine different positions. They represent 45 universities in 28 states coast-to-coast across the 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The ACC leads the conferences with 10 players, followed by the SEC with eight players, and the Big Ten with five players.

Players on this year’s Watch List accounted for 10,724 rushing yards, 16,853 receiving yards, 13,548 kickoff return yards, 4,092 punt return yards, and 394 total tackles in 2016. Reminiscent of Hornung during his playing days, members of the Watch List demonstrated a knack for scoring numerous ways. Last season the Watch List players combined for 291 total touchdowns in six different ways – passing, rushing, receiving, punt return, kickoff return, and interception.

The 2017 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2016 statistics, career performance, SID recommendations, and expectations heading into the 2017 season. Profiles of each player and information about the Award can be found at Players will be added to the Watch List during the 2017 regular season based on performance.

2017 Watch List Selections

Jaire, Alexander, Louisville

Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

Braxton Berrios, Miami

Evan Berry, Tennessee

Antonio Callaway, Florida

Parris Campbell, Ohio State

Andrew Celis, Nevada

Jared Cornelius, Arkansas

Nacarius Fant, WKU

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

George Frazier, Colorado

LaQuivonte Gonzalez, Kansas

Janarion Grant, Rutgers

Derrius Guice, LSU

Quadree Henderson, Pitt

Derwin James, Florida State

Richie James, Middle Tennessee

D’Ernest Johnson, USF

Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

Xaiver Johnson, South Alabama

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Keith Kirkwood, Temple

DJ Moore, Maryland

Jamal Morrow, Washington State

Charles Nelson Oregon

Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

Dante Pettis, Washington

Darius Phillips, Western Michigan

Tony Pollard, Memphis

De’Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska

Byron Pringle, Kansas State

Trever Ryen, Iowa State

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Jaylen Samuels, NC State

Jeff Smith, Boston College

Allenzae Staggers, Southern Mississippi

Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech

Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State

Kavontae Turpin, TCU

Tre Watson, California

Braeden West, SMU

Jordan Whitehead, Pitt

Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Devonte Williams, Indiana

Cedrick Wilson, Boise State

Shaun Wilson, Duke

A panel of college football experts selects players for the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll based on performance each week during the season. A national selection committee comprised of 16 sports journalists and former NFL stars votes for the Hornung Award finalists and the winner, with fan voting powered by Texas Roadhouse comprising the 17th vote. Regional accounting firm Dean Dorton independently tabulates all votes. For more information, visit Fans can also follow online on Twitter (@hornungaward) and Become a Fan on Facebook.

The Louisville Sports Commission successfully launched the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 to honor its namesake and native son, and to promote outstanding performances by versatile college football players who often go unnoticed. Previous winners by year are:

  • 2010: Owen Marecic of Stanford won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award as a two-way starter and All Pac-10 performer at fullback and honorable mention at linebacker.,
  • 2011: Brandon Boykin of Georgia won the award as a lockdown, All-American DB who also excelled on offense and special teams;
  • 2012: Tavon Austin of West Virginia won the award as one of two players in the nation with more than 500 yards in three different categories (rushing, receiving, and kick returns);
  • 2013: Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU won the award after finishing the season ranked second in the nation and first in the SEC with 2,222 all-purpose yards and 185.2 average yards per game;
  • 2014: Shaq Thompson of Washington won the award as a two-way player, earning first team All-America honors at linebacker and finishing as the Husky’s second-leading rusher at tailback;
  • 2015: Christian McCaffrey of Stanford won in 2015 after amassing 3,496 all-purpose yards with 1,847 rushing, 540 receiving and 1,109 return, breaking Barry Sanders record of 3,250 set in 1988.
  • 2016: Jabrill Peppers of Michigan won the award playing 15 different positions, earning consensus All-America at linebacker, and becoming the first player ever to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the year, Linebacker of the Year and Specialists of the Year.

Past winners and finalists who have made their mark in the NFL or are beginning their careers in 2017 include: Austin (Los Angeles), Beckham Jr. (New York Giants), Thompson (Carolina), Boykin (Baltimore Ravens), Kentucky’s Randall Cobb (Green Bay), TCU’s Jeremy Kerley (Detroit), Kent State’s Dri Archer (Buffalo), Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah (Detroit), Stanford’s Ty Montgomery (Green Bay); Missouri’s Marcus Murphy (New Orleans), Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona), Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook (Jacksonville), USC’s Adoree’ Jackson (Tennessee), Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (Carolina), Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (Cleveland)

Texas Roadhouse signed on as presenting sponsor of the Paul Hornung Award in 2011 and will team with the Louisville Sports Commission to power fan voting again this season. College football fans nationwide will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite player during the regular season and again during the bowl season. Fan voting will open in late September and factor into the selection of the finalists and winner.