WEEK 10: Four Group of Five Players Earn Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll
Louisville, Ky. – November 4, 2019 – Four skill position players – representing the AAC, Sun Belt and Mountain West – who made big contributions in conference wins were named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll in week 10 of the college football season: Jalen Cropper, Fresno State wide receiver/kick returner; Antonio Gibson, Memphis wide receiver/kick returner; Wesley Kennedy III, Georgia Southern running back/return specialist; and Avery Williams, Boise State corner back and punt returner.
The Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, now in its 10th 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 4, 2020.
Freshman wide receiver and kick returner Jalen Cropper of Fresno State touched the ball rushing, receiving, returning kicks and passing, and accounted for touchdowns two different ways in the Bulldogs’ 41-38 win at Hawaii. Cropper threw a 36-yard touchdown pass on a trick play to open the scoring then scored on a 53-yard run. He had three receptions for 62 yards, two rushes for 61 yards, accounted for four first downs, two kick returns for 32 yards and completed one pass. Fresno State is 4-4 on the year and 2-2 in the West Division of the Mountain West.
Senior wide receiver and kick returner Antonio Gibson of Memphis racked up 386 all-purpose yards and scored spectacular touchdowns of 50 yards or more three different ways in the Tigers’ heart-throbbing 54-48 win over previously unbeaten SMU. He scored on a 50-yard touchdown reception midway through the second quarter, returned the opening kickoff of the second half 97 yards for a score, then ran 78 yards for a touchdown mid-fourth quarter for what proved to be the winning score. Memphis is 8-1 on the year and 4-1 in the AAC West.
Junior running back and returner Wesley Kennedy III of Georgia Southern was a workhorse in the Eagles’ 24-21 upset win at Appalachian State, scoring two touchdowns on the ground, returning punts and fielding kickoffs. He carried the ball 13 times for 145 yards, scored on a two-yard run in the first quarter and a 68-yard run early in the third quarter. Kennedy added a punt return for 15 yards and fair caught two punts and one kickoff. Georgia Southern is 3-1 in the Sun Belt East Division and 5-3 on the year.
Junior cornerback and punt returner Avery Williams of Boise State made big plays on defense and special teams as the Broncos won 52-42 at San Jose State. With Boise State down 14-0 late in the first quarter, Williams returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown to kickstart a scoring onslaught. He added eight tackles on the night, including seven solo tackles, and had one pass deflection. Boise State now is 7-1 on the season and 4-0 in the Mountain West Mountain Division.
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 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 can also follow online on Twitter (@hornungaward) and Become a Fan on Facebook.
Previous Paul Hornung Award winners by year:
• 2018: Rondale Moore of Purdue won the award as a dynamic All-American freshman sensation who broke a school record for all-purpose yards in a season and a game with 2,215 and 313 respectively.
• 2017: Saquon Barkley of Penn State won the award as an electrifying All-American running back who lined up at slot and wildcat quarterback, and returned kicks and punts;
• 2016: Jabrill Peppers of Michigan won the award by playing 15 different positions on defense, offense and special teams, and earning first team All-America at linebacker;
• 2015: Christian McCaffrey of Stanford won the award after breaking the NCAA record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864;
• 2014: Shaq Thompson of Washington won the award as a two-way player, earning first team All-American honors at linebacker and finishing as the Husky’s second-leading rusher at tailback;
• 2013: Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU won the award after finishing 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 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);
• 2011: Brandon Boykin of Georgia won the award after excelling on defense, offense and special teams; and
• 2010: Owen Marecic of Stanford won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award as a two-way starter and All Pac-10 performer at fullback and linebacker.
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. For more information and to vote, go to www.louisvillesports.org/paul-hornung/award-poll/