50 Players Named to 2020 Paul Hornung Award Watch List
Players accounted for 44,223 total yards, 292 tackles and 239 touchdowns in 2019
Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse to Sponsor Award for 10th Year
Louisville, Ky. — July 23, 2020 — The Louisville Sports Commission today named 50 multi-talented college football players to the 2020 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse.
The Paul Hornung Award, now in its 11th 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 dinner at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville on March 2021.
More information about the Award can be found at www.paulhornungaward.com.
The 2020 Watch List is comprised of 50 players – 18 seniors, 22 juniors, nine sophomores and one grad transfer who play a total of eight different positions. These players represent 50 universities located in 28 states coast-to-coast that are part of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. All 10 FBS conferences and one independent school are represented on the Watch List; the SEC leads the conferences with eight players, followed by ACC with seven players and the Pac-12 and MWC with six players each.
The Paul Hornung Award has created an impressive legacy in 10 years. Six winners were first round NFL draft picks – Tavon Austin, Odell Beckham Jr., Shaq Thompson, Christian McCaffrey, Jabrill Peppers and Saquon Barkley. Last year’s winner, third-round draft pick Lynn Bowden Jr. of Kentucky, turned in a Hornung-like performance by moving from all-purpose receiver/back/return specialist to quarterback in mid-season and leading the Wildcats to a 5-2 record and Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
For the first time in the Award’s history, the Watch List includes a previous winner and two former finalists. Purdue’s Rondale Moore won the Award as a freshman in 2018. Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska) was a finalist last year, and Conner Heyward (Michigan State) was a finalist in 2018. Moore is the second player to try to win the Award twice, along with Christian McCaffrey, who won as a sophomore in 2015 but was edged out by Jabrill Peppers of Michigan in 2016.
In 2019, players on the Watch List accounted for 44,223 total yards, including 10,719 rushing yards, 17,850 receiving yards, 11,889 kickoff return yards and 3,658 punt return yards. A total of six players who made the list play defense and accounted for 292 total tackles, 15 interceptions and 45 PBUs. 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 239 total touchdowns in six different ways – rushing, receiving, passing, and returning punts, kickoffs and interceptions.
“We created this award as a way to reward college players who selflessly take on the burden of playing multiple positions, and excel at a high level the way Paul Hornung did for Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers,” said Karl Schmitt, president and CEO of the Louisville Sports Commission, owners and operators of the Award. “In addition, we wanted to introduce young players to the legacy of Hornung, who said he would do anything his coach asked of him to help his team win games.”
Hornung, who still lives in his hometown of Louisville, played every position in the offensive backfield during his career with the Irish in the 1950s and also played defensive safety, punted, placekicked and returned kickoffs. He was named All-America at quarterback as a senior and won the Heisman Trophy in 1956, then was the first player selected in the NFL draft, going to Green Bay. He earned NFL MVP honors for the Packers in 1961 as a triple-threat halfback and placekicker by setting a single-season NFL scoring record that stood for 46 years. He is a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and Vince Lombardi once called him, “The most versatile man ever to play the game.”
The 2020 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2019 statistics, career performance, SID recommendations and expectations heading into the 2020 season. In addition to the Watch List, the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll will recognize players whose performances during the regular season meet the Award’s criteria. Players from both the Watch List and the Honor Roll will be eligible to win the Award.
2020 Watch List Selections
Jaylond Adams, Southern Miss
Otis Anderson, UCF
Tyler Badie, Missouri
Journey Brown, Penn State
Tre Brown, Oklahoma
Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Jordan Byrd, SDSU
Michael Carter, UNC
Britain Covey, Utah
Dylan Drummond, Eastern Michigan
Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss
D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Demetric Felton, UCLA
Xavier Gaines, Marshall
Hassan Hall, Louisville
Thomas Hennigan, Appalachian State
Connor Heyward, Michigan State
Jevon Holland, Oregon
Deon Jackson, Duke
Giles Jackson, Michigan
D’Shawn Jamison, Texas
Amare Jones, Tulane
Velus Jones Jr., Tennessee
Lopini Katoa, BYU
Wesley Kennedy III, Georgia Southern
Myron Mitchell, UAB
Rondale Moore, Purdue
K.D. Nixon, Colorado
Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan
Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State
Stephon Robinson Jr., Kansas
Tayvion Robinson, Virginia Tech
Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska
Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Ainias Smith, Texas A&M
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
Tyler Snead, ECU
Marquez Stevenson, Houston
Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Toa Taua, Nevada
Juanyeh Thomas, Georgia Tech
Thayer Thomas, NC State
Deven Thompkins, Utah State
Kadarius Toney, Florida
Austin Trammell, Rice
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Connor Wedington, Stanford
Avery Williams, Boise State
Dante Wright, Colorado State
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. Regional accounting firm Dean Dorton independently tabulates all votes. For more information, visit www.paulhornungaward.com. Fans also can follow online on Twitter (@hornungaward) and Become a Fan on Facebook.
Previous Paul Hornung Award winners by year:
• 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.
Below are past winners and finalists who have made their mark in the NFL:
Ameer Abdullah* RB; Nebraska / Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings
Joe Adams WR; Arkansas / Carolina Panthers
Antonio Andrews WR; Western Kentucky / Tennessee Titans
Dri Archer RB; Kent State / Pittsburgh Steelers
Tavon Austin RB; West Virginia / St. Louis, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys
Saquon Barkley* RB; Penn State / New York Giants
Odell Beckham Jr* WR; LSU / New York Giants, Cleveland Browns
Lynn Bowden, Jr.* WR; Kentucky / Las Vegas Raiders
Brandon Boykin CB; Georgia / Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens
Randall Cobb* WR; Kentucky / Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
Clyde Edwards-Helaire* RB; LSU / Kansas City Chiefs
Marcus Green* WR; Louisiana-Monroe / Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles
Marion Grice RB; Arizona State / Arizona Cardinals
N’Keal Harry* WR; Arizona State / New England Patriots
Nyheim Hines* RB; NC State / Indianapolis Colts
Myles Jack* LB; UCLA / Jacksonville Jaguars
Adoree’ Jackson* CB; USC / Tennessee Titans
LaMichael James RB; Oregon / Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills
Jeremy Kerley WR; TCU / San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills
Joel Lanning LB; Iowa State / Dallas Cowboys
Marqise Lee* WR; USC / Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots
Johnny Manziel QB; Texas A&M / Cleveland Browns
Owen Marecic DB; Stanford / Cleveland Browns
Christian McCaffrey* RB; Stanford / Carolina Panthers
Ty Montgomery* RB; Stanford / Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints
Marcus Murphy RB; Missouri / New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills
Robert Nkemdiche DL; Ole Miss / Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins
Jabrill Peppers* DB; Michigan / Cleveland Browns, New York Giants
Dante Pettis* WR; Washington / San Francisco 49ers
Joe Reed* WR; Virginia / Los Angeles Chargers
Shaq Thompson* LB; Washington / Carolina Panthers
Dede Westbrook* WR; Oklahoma / Jacksonville Jaguars
*Currently active in NFL
Texas Roadhouse signed on as presenting sponsor of the Paul Hornung Award in 2011 and will partner 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.