November 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM EST - Updated July 27 at 7:50 AM
Five High-Powered Playmakers Named Paul Hornung Award Finalists
Pac-12 and SEC Land Two Players Each, Sun Belt Conference Lands One
Louisville, KY - Thursday, November 21, 2013 - Four elite players from offense and special teams and one true freshman defensive player who recently added ball carrying duties have been named finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse and given annually to the most versatile player in major college football.
The announcement for the fourth Paul Hornung Award was made by the Louisville Sports Commission and football legend Paul Hornung, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Notre Dame and an NFL Most Valuable Player with the Green Bay Packers whose versatility earned his enshrinement in both the college and professional football Halls of Fame. At Notre Dame, Hornung played every position in the offensive backfield, handled punting and placekicking duties, returned kickoffs and started at safety on defense.
Running backs/return specialists Marion Grice (Arizona State University) and Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky University), wide receiver/return specialist Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU), quarterback Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and linebacker/running back Myles Jack (UCLA) were selected as finalists for the award by a vote of 16 Selection Committee Members. Online fan voting at www.votepaulhornung.com counted for the 17th vote.
The five finalists combined for 10,101 all-purpose/passing yards and 84 touchdowns this season and led their teams to a collective record of 37-13. Four of their teams are ranked in the BCS and AP Top 25: Texas A&M (no. 12/9), UCLA (no. 14/14), Arizona State (no. 17/19) and LSU (no. 22/18).
"I like this group of players as finalists for my award," said Paul Hornung, the Louisville native who won the 1956 Heisman Trophy playing QB and who set the NFL single-season scoring record for the Green Bay Packers playing halfback and placekicker. "They show up in the big games, can find the end zone and do what it takes to win - which was how I played the game. It will be interesting to watch them in action the rest of the season."
The skills of four Paul Hornung Award finalists take center stage Nov. 23 when Beckham Jr. and Manziel square off in Baton Rouge (3:30 p.m. CBS) in an SEC showdown; and Grice and Jack face each other in Pasadena (7 p.m. FOX) for the Pac-12 South title.
All votes for the Paul Hornung Award are tabulated independently by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington. The winner and his family will be honored January 28 at the annual Paul Hornung award Banquet presented by KentuckyOne Health at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.
Five Finalists for Paul Hornung Award
For the second consecutive season, Western Kentucky senior running back and all-purpose specialist Antonio Andrews has earned a spot as a Paul Hornung Award finalist. Andrews is among the most prolific, multi-purpose players in college football and currently is the FBS all-purpose leader with 2,192 yards, an average of 219.2 yards per game. Andrews has been used as WKU's primary ball carrier, kick and punt returner and has been a key part of the WKU receiving game this season. He owns a 23-game streak with 100 or more all-purpose yards, nine games longer than any other player in the nation. Andrews has compiled 5,343 all-purpose yards over the last two seasons, ranking him fourth on the NCAA's all-time list for all-purpose yards in a two-year span and his 6,372 career all-purpose yards ranks 30th all-time in NCAA history. Andrews had a season-high five scores and 291 all-purpose yards leading the Hilltoppers to a 58-17 victory over Morgan State. Andrews recently helped WKU (6-4) become bowl eligible for the third straight season following a 21-17 win over Army in West Point. The Hilltoppers also have posted wins over FBS non-conference foes Kentucky (35-26 on Aug. 31) and Navy (19-7 on Sept. 28) this season, putting themselves in position to earn their second straight bowl appearance in just the fifth year of bowl eligibility for WKU since making the transition to the FBS.
Shifty and speedy LSU junior wide receiver and kick return specialist Odell Beckham, Jr., one of the most explosive players in college football, has 2090 all purpose yards on the season, ranks second nationally with 209 all-purpose yards per game and is closing in on the SEC single season record held by Randall Cobb (2,396, 2010). Beckham Jr. wowed Bayou Bengal fans this season with 24 receptions of 20 or more yards, has recorded 51 receptions for 1,051 yards and eight receiving touchdowns and became the first player in LSU history to return a missed field goal for a TD when he scampered 109 yards (100 statistical yards) vs. UAB on Sept. 7. The junior from Baton Rouge started the season with a bang, leading LSU to a 37-27 win over TCU with 272 all-purpose yards. He carried the ball twice for 18 yards, caught five passes for 118 yards, and returned four kickoffs for 136 yards. In the second game of the season, Beckham Jr. amassed 331 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the 56-17 win over UAB. Beckham Jr. carried the ball one time for 15 yards, caught five passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns, returned three punts and a kickoff for a combined 80 yards, and returned a missed field goal for a score. His 331 all-purpose yards is the third-highest total in school history for a single game and tied for eighth in SEC history.
A four-time 2013 Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll Selection, Arizona State running back and kick return specialist Marion Grice has piled up 1,673 all-purpose yards, recording 173 carries for 901 yards and 14 touchdowns, 43 receptions for 366 yards and six touchdowns and 17 kick returns for 406 yards. He is averaging 167.3 all-purpose yards per game this season and is second in the nation in scoring with 120 points. Grice is second in the nation with 20 touchdowns and became the third Sun Devil in school history and just the 15th Pac-10/12 player in the past 36 seasons to score that many TDs. In ASU's 32-30 upset win over Wisconsin at Sun Devil Stadium in week three of the season, Grice accounted for 198 all-purpose yards and four TDs: rushed 22 times for 84 yards, including a long run of 18 yards; caught five passes for 50 yards, including a long reception of 20 yards; added three kickoff returns for 64 yards, including a long of 23 yards. Grice added four TDs in the Sun Devils' 62-41 early-season win over USC. His 20 TDS are within striking distance of the ASU single-season TD record of 22 held by legendary Wilford "Whizzer" White. With a record of 8-2 and 6-1 in the Pac- 12 South, the Sun Devils control their own destiny to reach the Pac- 12 Conference Championship with two games left in the regular season.
UCLA linebacker and running back Myles Jack, a true freshman who established himself as a rock solid defender through the Bruin's first eight games this year, sent notice that he would be a force on offense in just two games. Jack rushed for 120 yards on his first six carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run to help the injury-depleted Bruins beat Arizona 31-26 on November 9. On defense, Jack had eight tackles, one tackle for a loss of two yards, two pass break-ups and recovered a fumble in the UCLA end zone as the Bruins won in Tucson for the first time since 2003. The following week, Jack started on offense and scored four rushing touchdowns - the most in a game for a Bruin freshman - as UCLA stayed in control of its destiny in the Pac-12 South race with a 41-31 victory over Washington. Jack also had five tackles and one pass break-up in stellar duty for the defense against the Huskies. To date he has 179 yards in 19 carries with five touchdowns. Earlier in the year his interception with 16 seconds left sealed UCLA's 34-27 road win over Utah.
Through 10 games as a third-year sophomore, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel entered the discussion as the national's most versatile player by racking up huge yardage and TDs, playing big in the big games and leading the Aggies to immediate respect in the toughest of all conferences, the SEC. So far this season, he is 230-of-315 passing for 3,315 yards and 31 TDs, leads the nation in total offense, is no. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency; and has rushed for 611 yards and eight TDs. Manziel lived up to expectations against Alabama by accumulating 562 total yards of offense in a 49-42 losing effort at home to two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide. Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans connected three times for long passes on A&M's first two drives, setting up two short touchdowns that put the Aggies up 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. Manziel went 28-for-39 passing and racked up 464 yards through the air for five touchdowns. He also carried the ball 14 times for 98 yards. This season Manziel has thrown for 400+ yards in four games, 300+ yards in two games, rushed for 100+ yards twice and has accounted for four TDs or more in six games, generated 300+ yards in every game he's started and rushed or passed for at least two TDs in every game.
Official release from Louisville Sports Commission