Three Dynamic Pac-12 Players Named Finalists for the 2023 Paul Hornung Award
2023 Paul Hornung Award Finalists - Travis Hunter, Colorado; Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State; Sione Vaki, Utah
Award Presented by Texas Roadhouse to Most Versatile Player in Major College Football
Louisville, Ky. – Nov. 16, 2023 – Three players from the Pac-12 Conference have been named finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile player in major college football. Making the list are Colorado’s iron man Travis Hunter, who excels on offense, defense and special teams and averages 126 snaps per game; Arizona State’s Cameron Skattebo, who plays running back, direct snap and “WildSkat” quarterback and is deadly as a quick kick punter; and Utah’s Sione Vaki, a premiere defensive back who was asked to fill in on offense due to injuries and has been explosive for the Utes carrying the ball and receiving.
The Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, now in its 14th season, is owned and operated by the Louisville Sports Commission (LSC). The Award pays tribute to the late football legend and Louisville native Paul Hornung. The winner and his family will be honored at the annual Paul Hornung Award dinner in downtown Louisville in March 2024. For information about the dinner, contact Julie Howell at 502-587-6742 or JHowell@Louisvillesports.org.
“These guys are gamers, same as Paul Hornung,” said Greg Fante, LSC president and CEO. “When playing for Notre Dame, Paul excelled on offense, defense and special teams and would do whatever he could to help his team win games. He would be proud of this year’s finalists.”
Travis Hunter, Colorado
Sophomore / 6-1, 185 lbs.
Cornerback/Slot and Wide Receiver
Primarily a cornerback, Colorado sophomore Travis Hunter is the most prolific two-way player in FBS, averaging 126 snaps per game playing five positions on defense, four skill positions on offense and on nearly all special teams. Despite missing four games due to injury, Hunter made the weekly Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll five times and once was named Paul Hornung Award National Player-of-the-Week. He currently is third on the team with 45 receptions for 532 yards and three touchdowns, second on the team with three interceptions, and has recorded 26 tackles, four pass deflections and one tackle for loss. Against TCU, he caught 11 passes for 119 yards and made a key interception; against Stanford, he played 154 snaps caught 13 passes and made five tackles; he played 126 snaps versus Oregon, caught eight passes and made two tackles and deflected a pass; he played 105 snaps versus UCLA with two interceptions and three receptions; against Arizona, he caught five passes, made six tackles and had one pass breakup.
- All-purpose: 522 yards, 74.6 per game
- Receiving: 45 receptions, 532 yards, three touchdowns
- Touchdowns: three
- Defensive stats
- 26 tackles (six solo, 20 assisted)
- One tackle for loss
- Three interceptions, 10 return yards
- Four pass breakups
- Average snaps per game: 126 (one at fullback, three at tight end, 246 at slot wide receiver, 120 at wide wide receiver, 33 at linebacker, 10 at slot cornerback, 440 at wide cornerback, one at free safety, one on kick coverage, one on kick return, four on punt return, 22 on field goal/extra point block)
Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State
Junior / 5-10, 225 lbs.
Running Back/Wildcat Quarterback/Punter
Rio Linda, Calif.
Primarily a running back, ASU junior running back Cameron Skattebo also lines up at shotgun quarterback and receiver and has been a weapon for the Sun Devils as a quick kick punter. He made the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll five times in the first 11 weeks of the season and twice was named Paul Hornung Award National Player-of-the-Week. He leads the team with 638 rushing yards, has scored eight touchdowns on the ground, is third with 280 receiving yards and a score, and has completed four of eight passes for 85 yards and a score. He had two games for the ages for the Sun Devils: in an upset of UCLA, he touched the ball 19 times four different ways, ran and threw for touchdowns and had a 50-yard punt; in a tough loss to USC, he touched the ball rushing, receiving, passing and punting, rushed for 111 yards on 20 carries, scored rushing and receiving, completed a halfback pass and a shotgun quarterback pass and had a 53-yard punt.
- All-purpose: 906 yards, 90.6 per game
- Rushing: 139 rushes, 626 yards, eight touchdowns
- Receiving: 23 receptions, 280 yards, one touchdown
- Passing: 4/8 passing, 85 yards, one touchdown
- Touchdowns: 10
- Punting: six punts, 264 yards, 44 per punt, three inside the 20
- Average snaps per game: 46.3 (45 at quarterback, 319 at running back, two at tight end, 48 at slot wide receiver, 44 at wide wide receiver, three on kick return, two on punt coverage)
Sione Vaki, Utah
Sophomore / 6-0, 200 lbs.
Primarily a free safety who plays multiple positions in the secondary and is a regular on special teams, Utah sophomore Sione Vaki answered the call to duty on offense in spectacular fashion when injuries depleted the Utes’ running back corps. As a two-way player, he made the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll four times and twice earned the Paul Hornung Award National Player-of-the-Week. On offense, he is third on the team with 259 rushing yards and two scores and fourth on the team with 211 receiving yards and three touchdowns; on defense, he made 49 tackles, one interception, two pass breakups, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. In his first significant time playing running back, Vaki played 16 offensive snaps, had 15 carries for 158 yards and two scores in a win over Cal, including a 72-yard sprint to paydirt; he also played 56 snaps on defense and made four tackles. In the Utes’ come-from-behind win over USC, he played 91 total snaps, and caught five passes for 149 yards and two scores; had nine carries for 68 yards and made two tackles.
- All-purpose: 468 yards, 46.8 per game
- Rushing: 31 rushes, 239 yards, two touchdowns
- Receiving: 10 receptions, 211 yards, three touchdowns
- Touchdowns: five
- Defensive Stats
- 49 tackles (36 solo, 13 assisted)
- 5 tackles for loss, two sacks
- One interception, two yards
- Two pass breakups
- Averaging snaps per game: 69.7 (13 at quarterback, 36 at running back, one at tight end, six at slot wide receiver, two at wide wide receiver, 35 at outside linebacker, 147 at inside linebacker, 115 at slot cornerback, 11 at wide cornerback, 270 at free safety, one on kick coverage, seven on kick return, 21 on punt coverage, eight on punt return, 24 on field goal/extra point block)
Data in player bios was provided by Pro Football Focus, a company that has separated itself from the pack in its ability to provide game-changing NFL data supported by studying every player, on every play of every game. In 2014, it began to do so for college football, offering top services for professional and college programs. For more information, click HERE.
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. Each week during the regular season, a panel of college football experts selects players for the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll based on performance. A national selection committee comprised of 17 sports journalists and former NFL stars votes for the Hornung Award finalists and the winner, with fan voting powered by Texas Roadhouse comprising the 18th vote.
2023 Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll
- Week 1: Zachariah Branch, USC; Erik Brooks, Fresno State; Malik Fleming, Houston; Travis Hunter, Colorado; Jayden McGowan, Vanderbilt; Jalen McMillian, Washington
- Week 2: Phillip Brooks, Kansas State; Travis Hunter, Colorado; Braden Smith, Cincinnati; Lincoln Victor, Washington State
- Week 3: Jacob De Jesus, UNLV; Tory Horton, Colorado State; Parker Kingston, BYU; DJ Lundy, FSU’ Michael Wiley, Arizona
- Week 4: Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State; Jawhar Jordan, Louisville; Will Shipley, ACC; Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State
- Week 5: Ismail Mahdi, Texas State; Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State; Jacquez Stuart, Toledo; Blake Watson, Memphis
- Week 6: Silas Bolden, Oregon State; Ron Cook, Jr., Buffalo; Jalil Farooq, Oklahoma; Keegan Jones, UCLA
- Week 7: Travis Hunter, Colorado; Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State; Sione Vaki, Utah
- Week 8: Demond Claiborne, Wake Forest; Ron Cook Jr, Buffalo; Jacob De Jesus, UNLV; Sione Vaki, Utah
- Week 9: Coco Azema, Northwestern; Jabre Barber, Troy; Jared Brown, Coastal Carolina; Travis Hunter, Colorado; Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State
- Week 10: Jermaine Brown Jr., UAB; Travis Hunter, Colorado; Malik Sherrod, Fresno State; Jacquez Stuart, Toledo; LaJohntay Wester, FAU; Isaiah Williams, Illinois
- Week 11: Travis Hunter, Colorado; Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State; Sione Vaki, Utah; Dan Villari, Syracuse; Isaiah Williams, Illinois
All votes for the Paul Hornung Award are independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and financial advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington, Ky., and Raleigh, N.C.
Paul Hornung Award Winners:
- 2022: Jack Colletto of Oregon State played fullback, quarterback and receiver on offense; linebacker and defensive back on defense; and was on all special teams. He scored six touchdowns rushing, completed two passes, made 28 tackles, caused a fumble and recovered a fumble.
- 2021: Marcus Jones of Houston was an All-American return specialist and lockdown corner who saw duty on offense. He recorded 48 tackles and five interceptions; returned a pair of kickoffs and punts for touchdowns; and caught 10 passes for 109 yards, including the winning score against Navy.
- 2020: DeVonta Smith of Alabama topped the nation in receiving yards and yards after catch, and averaged 24 yards per punt return leading the Crimson Tide to the national championship. He scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning punts and was a gunner on punt coverage.
- 2019: Lynn Bowden Jr. of Kentucky made the move from all-purpose receiver/wildcat quarterback/return specialist to quarterback in mid-season and led the Wildcats to a 5-2 record and Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
- 2018: Rondale Moore of Purdue was a dynamic All-American freshman sensation who broke the school record for all-purpose yards in a season and a game with 2,215 and 313, respectively.
- 2017: Saquon Barkley of Penn State was an electrifying All-American running back who lined up at slot and wildcat quarterback, and returned kicks and punts;
- 2016: Jabrill Peppers of Michigan played 15 different positions on defense, offense and special teams, and earned first-team All-America at linebacker;
- 2015: Christian McCaffrey of Stanford was a workhorse on offense and special teams who broke the NCAA record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864;
- 2014: Shaq Thompson of Washington was a two-way player, earning first team All-American honors at linebacker and finished as the Husky’s second-leading rusher at tailback;
- 2013: Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU finished 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;
- 2012: Tavon Austin of West Virginia earned All-American by scoring 17 touchdowns receiving, rushing, returning kicks and punts; and amassing 2,272 all-purpose yards, including 572 yards versus Oklahoma.
- 2011: Brandon Boykin of Georgia was a lockdown cornerback on defense; scored three touchdowns playing quarterback, running back and slot on offense; and led the SEC in punt and kick returns.
- 2010: Owen Marecic of Stanford was a two-way starter who averaged 110 snaps per game and earned first team All Pac-10 at fullback and honorable mention at linebacker.