53 Players Named to the 14th Annual Paul Hornung Award Watch List
Louisville, Ky. – Aug. 3, 2023 – Fifty-three players, representing all 10 conferences plus two of the independents that compete for the Football Bowl Series, have been selected for the Paul Hornung Award Pre-Season Watch List.
Now in its 14th season, the Paul Hornung Award is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission in memory of 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 Louisville, Ky., in March 2024.
More information about the Award can be found at www.paulhornungaward.com.
The players represent 53 different schools and last season combined for more than 56,000 total yards and more than 1,700 points. The vast majority of the players on the Watch List – 47 – play offensive skill positions and all but one are return specialists; six players are defensive backs and return specialists.
By conference, the ACC leads with nine players, followed by the Big 12 with eight, the Pac 12 with seven, and the Big 10 and CUSA with six each. The AAC, SEC and Mountain West each have five players on the list, the MAC three and the Sun Belt two. Independent schools Notre Dame and UConn each have one player on the list.
The Paul Hornung Award has created an impressive legacy in 13 years including seven winners who were first-round NFL draft picks – Tavon Austin, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Christian McCaffrey, Jabrill Peppers, DeVonta Smith and Shaq Thompson. Jack Colletto from Oregon State was named the 13th winner of the Paul Hornung Award in 2022 and the fourth from the Pac-12. A fifth-year senior with a degree in mechanical engineering who was named Academic All-District by the College Sports Communicators, on the field, the “Jackhammer” engineered the transition from part-time starting quarterback as a sophomore to a utility player who played nine different positions on offense and defense depending on the Beavers’ weekly game plan, and was a regular on all special teams.
Hornung, who passed away in his hometown at age 84 in Nov. 2020, 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 2023 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of statistics, career performance, SID recommendations and expectations heading into the 2023 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 Weekly Honor Roll are eligible to win the Award.
2023 Watch List Selections
- Brian Battie, Auburn
- Trey Benson, FSU
- Silas Bolden, Oregon State
- Jonathan Brady, New Mexico State
- Barion Brown, Kentucky
- Jermaine Brown Jr., UAB
- Phillip Brooks, Kansas State
- Shadrick Byrd, Charlotte
- Joshua Cephus, UTSA
- Ron Cook Jr., Buffalo
- Jacob Cowing, Arizona
- Cooper DeJean, Iowa
- MJ Devonshire, Pitt
- Chimere Dike, Wisconsin
- Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
- Trevor Etienne, Florida
- Malik Fleming, Houston
- Jaelen Gill, Fresno State
- Lideatrick Griffin, Mississippi State
- Smoke Harris, Louisiana Tech
- George Holani, Boise State
- Tory Horton, Colorado State
- Travis Hunter, Colorado
- Kris Hutson, Oregon
- Jha’Quan Jackson, Tulane
- Lexington Joseph, FIU
- Jeshaun Jones, Maryland
- Jawhar Jordan, Louisville
- Brant Kuithe, Utah
- Caullin Lacy, South Alabama
- Jaylin Lane, Virginia Tech
- Kenny Logan Jr., Kansas
- Jaylin Lucas, Indiana
- Jayden McGowan, Vanderbilt
- Jaylin Noel, Iowa State
- Ryan O’Keefe, Boston College
- Trebor Pena, Syracuse
- Ja’Shaun Poke, WVU
- Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State
- Victor Rosa, UConn
- Trayvon Rudolph, Northern Illinois
- Will Shipley, Clemson
- Nicholas Singleton, Penn State
- Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State
- Jaylen Stinson, Duke
- Jacquez Stuart, Toledo
- Milan Tucker, Appalachian State
- Chris Tyree, Notre Dame
- Terrell Vaughn, Utah State
- Tahj Washington, USC
- LaJohntay Wester, FAU
- Xavier Worthy, Texas
- Luke Wysong, New Mexico
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.
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.
Previous Paul Hornung Award winners by year:
- 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.
- 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 midseason 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, Las Vegas Raiders
- Joe Adams WR; Arkansas / Carolina Panthers
- Antonio Andrews RB; Western Kentucky / Tennessee Titans
- Dri Archer RB; Kent State / Pittsburgh Steelers
- Tavon Austin WR; West Virginia / St. Louis, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys RB, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Saquon Barkley* RB; Penn State / New York Giants
- Odell Beckham Jr* WR; LSU / New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens
- Lynn Bowden, Jr.* WR; Kentucky / Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints
- Brandon Boykin CB/DB; Georgia / Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens
- Randall Cobb* WR; Kentucky / Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New York Jets
- D’Wayne Eskridge* WR; Western Michigan / Seattle Seahawks
- Travis Etienne* RB; Clemson / Jacksonville Jaguars
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire* RB; LSU / Kansas City Chiefs
- Jahmyr Gibbs* RB; Alabama / Detroit Lions
- Marcus Green WR; Louisiana-Monroe / Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles
- Marion Grice RB; Arizona State / San Diego, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals
- Justin Hall WR; Ball State / Las Vegas Raiders
- KJ Hamler* WR; Penn State / Denver Broncos
- N’Keal Harry WR; Arizona State / New England Patriots, Chicago Bears
- Nyheim Hines* RB; NC State / Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills
- Myles Jack ILB; UCLA / Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Adoree’ Jackson* CB; USC / Tennessee Titans, New York Giants
- LaMichael James RB; Oregon / Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers
- Marcus Jones*, CB; Houston / New England Patriots
- Jeremy Kerley WR; TCU / New York Jets, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills
- Joel Lanning LB; Iowa State / Dallas Cowboys
- Marqise Lee WR; USC / Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers
- Johnny Manziel QB; Texas A&M / Cleveland Browns
- Owen Marecic DB/RB; Stanford / Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers
- Christian McCaffrey* RB; Stanford / Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers
- Ty Montgomery* RB/WR; Stanford / Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots
- Rondale Moore* WR; Purdue / Arizona Cardinals
- Marcus Murphy RB; Missouri / New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers
- Robert Nkemdiche DT; Ole Miss / Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers
- Jabrill Peppers* DB/FS; Michigan / Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, New England Patriots
- Dante Pettis* WR; Washington / San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears
- Jayden Reed* WR; Michigan State / Green Bay Packers
- Joe Reed* WR; Virginia / Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears
- DeVonta Smith* WR; Alabama / Philadelphia Eagles
- Shaq Thompson* LB; Washington / Carolina Panthers
- Kadarius Toney* WR; Florida / New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs
- Dede Westbrook WR; Oklahoma / Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings
- Kyren Williams* RB; Notre Dame / Los Angeles Rams
*Currently active in NFL