ASU football recognized on numerous award watch lists

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                </div>The college football landscape is littered with national awards that recognize excellence at the various positions.  Most are named after a great player from the past who also excelled at […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The college football landscape is littered with national awards that recognize excellence at the various positions.  Most are named after a great player from the past who also excelled at a particular skill set.

Undoubtedly the most widely-known is the Heisman Trophy, which is given annually to the major-college player voted to be the best collegiate football player in the nation.  That award almost invariably goes to a quarterback or running back.

But in 2010, the Louisville Sports Commission created a new award that was designed to recognize the athlete who best personifies the all-around athlete.  It is given to the player who is considered to be “the most versatile.”

And it was named after Paul Hornung, the man the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, once called “the most versatile man ever to play the game.”

Hornung was best remembered as a fullback, halfback, and quarterback for the Packers until Lombardi settled on using him as a halfback for the better part of his illustrious career.  But at Notre Dame, he played all three of those positions – plus safety on defense, and handled punts, kick-offs, field goals, and extra-point attempts.

So obviously there is only a select group of collegiate players each year who are even eligible to be considered for the Paul Hornung Award.  And this year Arizona State‘s sophomore running back, D.J. Foster, is on the pre-season watch list for the award.  He will be in a group of 44 who will vie for the honor – and just one of four sophomores being considered.

Foster, a local favorite from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, was a freshman All-American last season when he played in all 13 games and became one of just six true freshmen in school history to start the season’s first game.

He showed his versatility by splitting his total of 1,026 yards into 493 rushing and 533 receiving.  The 553 yards and 38 receptions are the second-highest by a freshman in program history.

Foster averaged 4.8 yards per carry and 14 yards per reception.

But even if the hard-running 5’11” speedster puts up great numbers again this year, his chances of taking home the award with three years yet to play aren’t good.

The panel of experts that will make the final decision (combined with fan voting) will be looking at 1) his stats next season, 2) his career performance, and 3) whether he lives up to the expectations.  That second criteria, career performance, puts him at a disadvantage already because they will have just two years to consider.

Teammate Jamal Miles, who averaged 10 yards a catch as a wide receiver last year and holds the ASU record for the most kick-return yardage (1,866), was on the watch list the last two years during his sophomore and junior seasons – but came up empty both times.

And Miles is just one of many who have made multiple appeareances on the Hornung watch list.  Two of them are in ASU’s conference, the Pac-12, and will make a strong bid again this year for winning the award.

This is the second straight year for Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas, who was one of only two players in the country last year to run for more than 700 yards, gain 400 yards on receptions, and accumulate more than 600 yards in punt and kick-off returns.

And Marqise Lee from USC is also making his second consecutive appearance on the list.  He won the Biletnikoff Award last year for the nation’s top receiver, making 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also returned 30 kick-offs for an average return of 28.5 yards.

Foster has plenty of competition for the award, but just his inclusion on the list says something about his potential for the coming season.

And a growing list of other ASU award nominees illustrate the team‘s potential for the coming season:

Maxwell Award watch list (College Player of the Year): QB Taylor Kelly, running back Marion Grice, defensive tackle Will Sutton.

Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year): Will Sutton and defensive end Carl Bradford.

Thorpe Award (nation’s most outstanding defensive back): Alden Darby

John Mackey Award (nation’s most outstanding tight end): Chris Coyle.

Rimington Award (nation’s top center): Kody Koebensky.

Outland Trophy (most outstanding interior lineman): Will Sutton.

Bronko Nagurski Award (national defensive player of the year): Will Sutton and Carl Bradford.

Lott IMPACT Trophy (positive influence on and off the field): Alden Darby.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)