LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four versatile, offensive and special teams-oriented players who amassed 10,785 all-purpose yards this season have been named finalists for the 2012 Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse. The announcement was made Friday morning by Louisville-area legend Paul Hornung and the Louisville Sports Commission.
Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky University), Dri Archer (Kent State University), Tavon Austin (West Virginia University) and Marqise Lee (University of Southern California) were selected finalists for the award by a vote of 16 elite media members and football personalities as well as an online fan vote.
Votes were confirmed by Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington.
The Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse, is presented annually to the most versatile player in major college football. Stanford linebacker / fullback Owen Marecic won the inaugural award following the 2010 season and Georgia defensive back / running back / return specialist Brandon Boykin captured the award last year.
The four finalists for the 2012 Paul Hornung Award added to their 10,785 all-purpose yards this season with 70 total touchdowns in five different offensive or special teams’ categories. Paul Hornung Award finalists accounted for nine of the top 15 single-game, all-purpose yardage performances this season.
“These finalists represent the best of the best playmakers in college football,” said award namesake Paul Hornung. “They made a major impact this season for their teams in putting up big numbers and finding the end zone in multiple ways, just like I did when I played the game. I am really excited to see how these young men perform in their upcoming bowl matchups and look forward to welcoming one of them to Louisville in February for one of the finest banquets in the nation for college football awards.”
WKU’s Antonio Andrews compiled one of the top all-purpose seasons in NCAA history. His 2,997 yards ranks third all-time, 273 yards behind Barry Sanders’ 1988 record of 3,250 all-purpose yards. This season, Andrews was the only running back in the nation with more than 1,500 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving and the only player in the nation with four 300-yard, all-purpose games. He finished the regular season with 277 carries for 1,609 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, 411 yards receiving on 34 receptions with three touchdowns, 18 punt returns for 230 yards and a touchdown and 26 kickoff returns for 727 yards. He averaged 12.1 yards per reception, 12.8 yards per punt return, 28.0 yards per kickoff return and 5.8 yards per carry and threw a pass for the winning two-point conversation in WKU’s overtime victory over Kentucky.
The Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in Detroit at Ford Field. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Kent State’s Dri Archer compiled nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards in leading Kent State to an 11-1 record in the regular season. He is the only player in the nation with a passing, receiving, rushing and kick return touchdown this season. Archer had 150 carries for 1,352 yards and 15 touchdowns, 35 receptions for 539 yards and four touchdowns, one punt return, 15 kickoff returns for 573 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass. Archer piled up 38.2 yards per kick return, 15.4 yards per reception and 9.0 yards per rushing attempt. Archer is the only player in the nation with more than 1,300 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving. Only three players in the nation have scored more touchdowns than Archer’s 22 this season.
The Golden Flashes will face Arkansas State in the GODADDY.com Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Mobile, Ala. The game is set for 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
West Virginia’s Tavon Austin is the first player in school history to score four different ways. Austin piled up 2,760 all-purpose yards in 2012, averaging 230.0 per outing. Austin finished with 61 carries for 598 yards and three touchdowns, 110 receptions for 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns, 15 punt returns for 165 yards and a touchdown and 28 kickoff returns for 738 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 26.4 yards per kickoff return, 11.0 yards per punt return, 11.4 yards per reception and a remarkable 9.8 yards per carry. Austin’s 572 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma on Nov. 17 were the second most in a single game in FBS history. Alongside Archer, Austin is one of two players in the nation with more than 500 yards in three different statistical categories (rushing, receiving and kick returns). Austin is one of three players in the nation with 110 or more catches this season and leads all players with 200-plus touches this season in yards per play at 12.90.
The Mountaineers will face Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, in New York City at Yankee Stadium. The game will kickoff at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
USC’s Marqise Lee piled up 2,588 yards in 2012, recording 112 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns, 12 carries for 106 yards and 28 kickoff returns for 802 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 215.7 all-purpose yards per game. Lee, the 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, set Pac-12 season records for receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,680). He currently leads the nation in receptions and Pac-12 in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards and kickoff return yards. He scored 15 touchdowns in 2012, including 14 on receptions. The average length of his 15 touchdowns was more than 40 yards per play. Lee has a school-record eight career games with double digit receptions, including a school-record seven in 2012, and six career contests with multiple TDs.
The Trojans will face Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in El Paso, Texas. The game is set for 2 p.m. ET on CBS.
Fans can show their support for Andrews, Archer, Austin and Lee in online voting for the Paul Hornung Award winner at www.votepaulhornung.com powered by Texas Roadhouse. The final fan vote counts as the equivalent of a selection committee member. Fan voting will end on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, at noon ET. A record 71,000+ votes were cast for Paul Hornung Award finalists.
In addition to this year’s four finalists, the following 10 players received votes from the selection committee and finished in the top three in the fan voting: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Louisville’s Adrian Bushell, TCU’s Brandon Carter, Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Northwestern’s Venric Mark and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
Past finalists have made their mark in the NFL, including Marecic (Cleveland Browns), Boykin (Philadelphia Eagles), Kentucky’s Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers), Arkansas’ Joe Adams (Carolina Panthers), Oregon’s LaMichael James (San Francisco 49ers) and Toledo’s Eric Page (former free agent signee of Denver Broncos).
The winner of the Paul Hornung Award will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, with the winner being honored at a banquet in Louisville on Feb. 15, 2013.