Written By Atlantic Coast Conference
Greensboro, N.C.-Six Atlantic Coast Conference football standouts have been named to the 44-man 2013 preseason Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award which was released Friday by the Louisville Sports Commission.
The Paul Hornung Award, now in its fourth 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 2013 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2012 statistics, career performance and expectations heading into the 2013 season. Profiles of each player and information about the Award can be found at www.paulhornungaward.com.
The Watch List is comprised of 19 seniors, 21 juniors and four sophomores, representing 41 universities and 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
The ACC and Mid-American Conferences, with six selections each, trailed only the SEC which had nine picks. The Big 12 and Big Ten Conferences had five honorees each, followed by the Pac-12 and Mountain West with four, Conference USA with two and the American and Sun Belt Conferences and independent BYU with one each.
"The Paul Hornung Award Watch List for the upcoming season is an impressive group of players who excel at multiple positions to help their teams win, which is how I played the game," Hornung said. "It will be interesting to see which players excel during the season and emerge as the top choices of our selection committee."
Selected from the ACC were Clemson junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Ft. Myers, Fla.), Georgia Tech junior defensive back Jamal Golden (Wetumpka, Ala.), Maryland sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Gaithersburg, Md.), Miami sophomore running back Duke Johnson (Miami, Fla.), Virginia Tech junior rover Kyshoen Jarrett (Tannersville, Pa.) and Wake Forest senior wide receiver Michael Campanaro (Clarksville, Md.).
As a freshman in 2010, Clemson's Watkins set an ACC records for first-year players in pass receptions (82), reception yardage (1,219) and touchdown receptions (12) and all-purpose yardage (2,288) and all-purpose yardage per game (176.0).
Georgia Tech's Golden ranked sixth nationally in punt returns (14.59) and 10th in kickoff return average (28.35) in 2012. The Yellow Jacket junior defensive back ran his way into the Tech record books when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns - one against BYU and one at North Carolina. Prior to Golden's 100-yard return against BYU, Tech had gone 15 seasons without returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
Maryland's Diggs recorded the second-best all-purpose season for a freshman in league history in 2012, coming within a shade of Watkins' mark. Diggs ranked 8th nationally, averaged 172.4 yards of all-purpose yardage. He also ranked 9th nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 28.52 yards a return with two TD returns and was 5th nationally among all freshmen in reception yardage per game averaging 77.1 with 848 reception yards on 54 catches, despite having to play with four different quarterbacks in 2012 due to a series of injuries.
Miami's Johnson was named the 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year after a spectacular freshman campaign that saw him rank 3rd nationally in kickoff returns with a 33.04 average and a pair of 95-yard TD runbacks while also rushing for 947 yards and 10 TDs and a sparkling 6.8 per-carry average. He ranked 9th nationally in all-purpose yardage (171.7) just behind Maryland's Diggs.
Virginia Tech's Jarrett was 9th nationally in punt returns, averaging 13.89 per return including a 94-yarder for a TD that was the 4th-longest in ACC history. Jarrett was also the 2nd-leading tackler (83 tackles) on a Tech defense that was ranked 18th nationally in 2012 (333.15) and allowed just 284 yards per game over its final seven contests.
Wake Forest's Campanaro, despite injuries which limited him to just 10 games in 2012, led the ACC in pass receptions per game (7.9), finishing 8th nationally with 79 catches. He also averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 16 rushes from scrimmage, returned five punts and threw a 39-yard TD pass-the third of his career-- on his only pass attempt of the year.
The winner will be honored at the official Paul Hornung Award Banquet sponsored by KentuckyOne Health, held at the Galt House in downtown Louisville in late January 2014.
Players from all FBS teams are eligible and appearing on the Paul Hornung Award Watch List is not a prerequisite for winning the Award. The Selection Committee is comprised of 16 national sports journalists and former college and NFL players who vote for finalists then a winner. Their votes are tabulated by public accounting firm Dean Dorton Allen Ford.
Atlantic Coast Conference