Football's Beckham Jr. Wins Hornung Award

by Bill Martin (@LSUBillMartin)
Football's Beckham Jr. Wins Hornung Award

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After shattering an LSU single-season record for all-purpose yards, junior wide receiver/return specialist Odell Beckham Jr. won the fourth annual Paul Hornung Award as major college football’s most versatile player, the Louisville Sports Commission announced on Friday morning.

Beckham Jr. captured the trophy named in honor of the legendary Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and NFL MVP for the Green Bay Packers. A panel of 16 journalists, former NFL stars and a fan vote were tabulated. Beckham Jr. bested four other exceptional players who were finalists: Arizona State’s Marion Grice, Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and UCLA’s Myles Jack.

“It’s just an honor and a blessing to even be mentioned with these guys who are up for the Hornung Award,” said Beckham Jr. “I am proud to accept the award and thank the committee for recognizing me and the fans for voting.

“It means a lot to me personally because I have worked extremely hard well before this season started. I had great teammates help me along the way, especially on kickoff and punt returns. None of the opportunities to display my versatility would be possible if it weren’t for my teammates and coaches putting me in a position to succeed.”

Beckham Jr. turned in arguably the most explosive season in LSU football history, racking up 2,222 all-purpose yards to break Domanick Davis’ school record of 2,120 yards set in 2002. Beckham Jr. caught 57 passes for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns. He also recorded the second-highest kick return yardage total in LSU history with 806 yards on 30 returns. Beckham Jr. added 14 punt returns for 141 yards.

The New Orleans native will head into the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day just 174 yards shy from tying the Southeastern Conference single-season all-purpose record of 2,396 held by Kentucky’s Randall Cobb in 2010. Beckham Jr. is currently third in SEC single-season all-purpose history.

His most dazzling feat of the year came in week two. He racked up the third-highest total in LSU all-purpose single-game history – 331 yards – highlighted by the first missed short field goal return for a touchdown in school history. Beckham Jr. raced 108 yards from the back of the endzone for the score. It was believed to be the first missed short field goal return for a touchdown by an FBS player since Richie Iuzzi of Clemson did it against Georgia on Sept. 28, 1968.

In perhaps the most impressive measure of his versatility and team spirit, Beckham played the role of Johnny Manziel on the scout team offense during LSU’s preparation for Texas A&M. The Tiger defense then held Manziel to less than 300 yards total offense and picked off two of his passes as LSU beat the ninth-ranked Aggies 34-10 on Nov. 23.

“I love the way Odell Beckham Jr. plays the game,” Hornung said. “He can run, catch, block and return kicks and plays with great determination. And he has my admiration for lining up on the scout team during the season to help his defense get better. That’s how I played the game – doing anything I could to help my team win.”

Beckham Jr. becomes the first LSU player to capture the award and the 14th national individual award winner in program history. It is the 11th national individual award captured by a player in the Les Miles era dating back to 2005.

Beckham Jr. will be formally presented with the Hornung Award at a banquet at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville on Jan. 28. 

Paul Hornung Award Winners
2013 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
2012 – Tavon Austin, West Virginia
2011 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia
2010 – Owen Marecic, Stanford

LSU National Award Winners Under Les Miles
2013 – Odell Beckham Jr. (Paul Hornung Award)
2011 – Morris Claiborne (Thorpe Award)
2011 – Tyrann Mathieu (Bednarik Award)
2010 – Patrick Peterson (Bednarik Award, Thorpe Award)
2007 – Glenn Dorsey (Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy)
2006 – JaMarcus Russell (Manning Award)
2005 – Rudy Niswanger (Campbell Trophy)