The Paul Hornung Award

Six Offensive Players / Return Specialists Earn Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll

Group Combines for 108 Touches Four Different Ways; 1,122 Yards and 11 Scores

Louisville, Ky. – Nov. 30, 2020 – Six offensive players / return specialists who helped lead their teams to conference wins were named to the weekly Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll. Making the list are: D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan; Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State; Kobe Lewis, Central Michigan; Devonta Smith, Alabama; Thayer Thomas, NC State; and De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio.

The Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, now in its 11th season, is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission to pay tribute to 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 in March 2021.

College football fans nationwide have the opportunity to vote for their favorite player during the regular season and again during the bowl season. Online fan voting powered by Texas Roadhouse is now open HERE and factors into the selection of the finalists and winner.

Western Michigan senior wide receiver / return specialist D’Wayne Eskridge touched the ball 11 times three different ways for 285 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos 30-27 back-and-forth win over Northern Illinois. Eskridge caught seven passes for 134 yards, carried the ball once for 27 yards and returned three kickoffs for 124 yards, including a 100-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He accounted for six first downs, including one rushing and one receiving in the game-winning field goal drive.

Oregon State junior running back / return specialist Jermar Jefferson was a workhorse in the Beavers’ 41-38 upset win over Oregon, touching the ball 32 times for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson carried the ball 29 times for 226 yards and two scores – an 82-yard run in the first quarter and a two-yard run in the fourth quarter. He returned a kickoff and caught two passes, and accounted for six first downs rushing and receiving.

Central Michigan junior running back / return specialist Kobe Lewis touched the ball 27 times three different ways for 190 yards and a score in the Chippewas’ 31-23, come-from-behind win over Eastern Michigan. Lewis carried the ball 18 times for 108 yards and scored on a two-yard run in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. He returned two kickoffs, caught seven passes and accounted for seven first downs rushing and receiving.

Alabama junior wide receiver / return specialist Devonta Smith touched the ball 10 times three different ways for 198 yards and a touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s 42-13 win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Smith opened the scoring on Alabama’s first possession with a 66-yard touchdown reception. He recorded 171 receiving yards on seven catches, carried the ball once and returned two punts for 18 yards. Smith accounted for five first downs.

NC State junior wide receiver / return specialist Thayer Thomas touched the ball 15 times three different ways and scored three times in the Wolfpack’s 36-29 win over Syracuse. Thomas had nine catches for 102 yards and touchdowns of 15 yards, 31 yards and nine yards that helped NC State keep pace with Syracuse. He returned a punt four yards, fair caught three punts and his 44-yard kickoff return led to an NC State score. Thomas also accounted for three first downs receiving.

Ohio senior running back / return specialist De’Montre Tuggle touched the ball 17 times three different ways for three touchdowns in the Bobcats’ 52-10 win over Bowling Green. Tuggle carried the ball 15 times for 185 yards and scored on runs of eight, 70 and 43 yards. His 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter proved to be the game winner. Tuggle also caught one pass, returned one kickoff and accounted for three first downs.

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 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.