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Utah State's Kerwynn Williams named to 2012 Paul Hornung Award Watch List

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 7:32 p.m. MDT

Utah State senior running back/kick returner Kerwynn Williams is one of 49 candidates for the 2012 Paul Hornung Award, it was announced by the Louisville Sports Commission Thursday. The Paul Hornung Award, now in its third season, is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football. It is the second-straight year Williams has been named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List.

Williams is the only player from the state of Utah and one of just three Western Athletic Conference players named to the list, along with San Jose State's Chandler Jones and Idaho's Justin Veltung.

It is the third time this year Williams has received preseason national recognition, as he is also one of 52 candidates for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top college running back, and one of 30 punt returners placed on the 2012 College Football Performance Award Watch List for special teams.

A native of Las Vegas, Nev. (Valley HS), Williams rushed for 542 yards on 81 carries (6.7 ypc) in 2011, which ranked third on USU’s single-season rushing average list, to go along with three rushing touchdowns, including a 43-yard score against Auburn.

In 2011, Williams added seven receptions for 63 yards and also had 36 kick returns for 817 yards (22.7 ypr), which ranked fifth in the WAC and 73rd in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), and seven punt returns for 98 yards (14.0 ypr). Overall, he totaled 1,520 all-purpose yards on the season, for an average of 121.5 yards per game, ranking eighth in the WAC and 58th in FBS.

For his career, Williams has rushed for 1,003 yards on 164 carries (6.1 ypc) and has scored seven rushing touchdowns in 36 games. He also has 3,392 career kickoff return yards on 134 attempts (26.3 ypr) with one touchdown, and 135 career punt return yards on 11 attempts (12.3 ypr).

The 2012 Paul Hornung Award Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2011 statistics, career performance and expectations heading into the 2012 season. Profiles of each player and information about the award can be found on www.paulhornungaward.com.

The list is comprised of 25 seniors, 16 juniors and eight sophomores, representing 44 Universities and 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The SEC is the leading conference with 12 players followed by the Pac-12 with 10 players. The Big Ten and Big 12 each have six representatives. The USC Trojans have a Watch List leading three representatives while Illinois, Mississippi State and Oregon each have two.

In 2011, players on this year’s Paul Hornung Award Watch List accounted for 10,497 rushing yards; 17,112 receiving yards; 20,133 kickoff return yards; 5,320 punt return yards; and 735 total tackles. Reminiscent of Hornung during his playing days, members of the Watch List demonstrated a knack for scoring, posting 251 total touchdowns in seven different scoring capacities while compiling 1,474 points a year ago.

“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.”

The Louisville Sports Commission successfully launched the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 to honor its namesake and native son and to promote outstanding performances by versatile college football players that often go unnoticed. Owen Marecic of Stanford, a two-way starter and All Pac-10 performer at fullback and linebacker, won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award. Brandon Boykin of Georgia won the award in 2011 after excelling on defense, offense and special teams.

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