As the 2016 college football season nears its end, the Louisville Sports Commission has announced the four finalists for the 7th annual Paul Hornung Award, presented annually to the most versatile player in the nation.
This year’s finalists include two primary offensive players and two primary defenders who also contribute on special teams.
The four finalists are USC defensive back Adoree’ Jackson, Michigan do-it-all man Jabrill Peppers, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
“This group of players is high on quality,” Hornung said. “We’ve developed an exclusive fraternity of Paul Hornung Award winners, and any of this year’s finalists would be a welcome addition to our group.”
The 2016 Paul Hornung Award winner will be chosen from among the finalists and announced Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Bios for the four finalists from the official press release can be seen below.
Adoree’ Jackson, Cornerback / Kick Returns / Running Back / Wide Receiver
Junior, USC Trojans (7-3, 6-2 conference)
Jackson is a big play, lockdown cornerback who made circus catches on interceptions, spectacular plays returning punts and kicks, and influenced the game in spot play in the offensive backfield. He made two key interceptions in USC’s electrifying road win over number four-ranked Washington and made an acrobatic interception to end a drive deep in USC territory in the win over number 10-ranked Colorado. Jackson is a dangerous return man, averaging nearly 15 yards per punt return and 30 yards per kickoff return. He consistently helped USC with great field position with fair catches and by disrupting opponents’ kickoff and punt schemes.
45 total tackles: 38 solo tackles, 1 TFL, 4 INT, 7 PBU, 7 PD
3 CAR, 20 yds
15 PR, 220 yds, 1 TD
16 KR, 464 yds, 1 TD
Christian McCaffrey, Running Back / Slot Back / Kick and Punt Returns
Junior, Stanford Cardinal (7-3, 5-3 conference)
McCaffrey is workhorse on offense and special teams who led the Cardinal in rushing, scoring, punt and kickoff returns, and was third on the team in receiving. Primarily a running back, McCaffrey also lined up at slot, wide receiver and “wild caff” quarterback. He accounted for 200+ all-purpose yards in six games and 11 touchdowns despite being bracketed by defensive schemes all season. McCaffrey was a threat to score every time he touched the ball; he forced teams to adjust their kickoff and punting game plans to keep him in check. He also delivered outstanding field position by fair catching punts in tight situations.
192 CAR, 1115 yds, 9 TD
31 REC, 265 yds, 2 TD
6 PR, 41 yds
14 KR, 318 yds
Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker / Defensive Back / Kick Returns / Running Back
Junior, Michigan Wolverines (9-1, 6-1 conference)
While primarily a linebacker, Peppers made an impact at 15 different positions, recording a total 732 snaps on defense, offense and special teams. On defense, Peppers also played cornerback, strong safety and free safety, and led the team with 14 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries; he was second on the team with 59 tackles and four sacks. On special teams, Peppers averaged an astounding 17.25 yards per punt return (with one touchdown) and 25 yards per kickoff return, and consistently improved the Wolverines’ field position with numerous fair catches and short kicks by opponents. On offense, he played wildcat quarterback, running back, slot and wide receiver; he is the Wolverine’s fifth leading rusher with 161 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
21 CAR, 161 yds, 3 TD
2 REC, 3 yds
59 total tackles: 38 solo tackles, 4 sacks (3 solo), 14 TFL (9 solo), 1 FF, 8 QB hurries
8 KR, 198 yds
16 PR, 276 yds, 1 TD
Dede Westbrook, Wide Receiver / Punt and Kick Returns
Senior, Oklahoma Sooners (8-2, 7-0 conference)
Westbrook is a big-play wider receiver and prolific scorer with blazing speed who is ranked number two in the nation in receiving yards per game, number three in receiving touchdowns (14) and number four in total receiving yards (1,254). He averaged 17 yards per carry, 28 yards per kickoff return and an amazing 20 yards per punt return. He scored OU’s first two touchdowns in the win over Kansas and had 233 all-purpose yards and the game-winning score against Iowa State. His 14 touchdown receptions have averaged 45.4 yards, and 10 of his touchdown catches have come from at least 40 yards.
5 CAR, 83 yds
68 REC, 1,254 yds, 14 TDs
4 PR, 79 yds, 1 TD
8 KR, 227 yds
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