Winner: Christian McCaffrey
Stanford University’s Christian McCaffrey, a workhorse running back and kick return specialist who also lined up at blocking back, slot, wildcat quarterback and wide receiver, was named winner of the sixth annual Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse. The Louisville Sports Commission and Paul Hornung present the Award to the most versatile player in major college football.
“The Paul Hornung Award is such an honor when you realize how many great athletes there are in college football right now,” said Stanford Head Coach David Shaw. “It has truly been a magical season for Christian.”
McCaffrey was chosen as the Paul Hornung Award winner from among four finalists by a 16-member national Selection Committee comprised of sports journalists and retired NFL players; online fan voting accounted for a 17th vote. All votes were independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington.
“I am beyond blessed and humbled to be named the Paul Hornung Award winner,” said Christian McCaffrey. “To be mentioned in the same breath with the Award’s previous winners and Mr. Hornung, one of the most versatile players ever to play the sport, is incredible. This honor is a testament to all the efforts and support of my teammates, coaches, staff and the entire Stanford football program.”
McCaffrey by the Numbers
One of college football’s most dynamic players on offense and special teams, Christian recorded a season for the ages in 2015 by generating an NCAA single-season record 3,864 all-purpose yards and a truckload of honors: AP Player of the Year; consensus All-American and Academic All-American; MVP of the Rose Bowl and the Pac-12 Championship game; Pac-12 Player of the Year; second in voting for the Heisman Trophy; and finalist for the Davey O’Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards.
Christian finished the year with eight touchdowns rushing, five receiving, one on a kick return, one on a punt return and threw two touchdown passes. During the regular season, he recorded 200+ all-purpose yards in four games, 300+ all-purpose yards in four games, set a Stanford record with 10 consecutive games of 100+ rushing yards, set a single-game record with 243 rushing yards on 25 carries versus UCLA and was the only player in the FBS to lead his team in both receiving and rushing yards.
Christian had two career nights in the post season: in the Rose Bowl, he amassed a record 368 all-purpose yards, including a record 75-yard touchdown reception and a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown, and became the first player in the game’s 102-year history to gain more than 100 yards rushing and receiving; in the Pac-12 championship win over USC, he recorded a school record 461 all-purpose yards on 207 rushing, 105 receiving, 120 in kick returns and 29 in punt returns, and accounted for a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing.
Three defensive stars who provide their teams offensive energy and a workhorse all-purpose offensive back were named finalists for the sixth annual Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse and given to the most versatile player in major college football. The four players – Adoree’ Jackson (Southern Cal), Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) represented three power conferences: Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.
Three of the finalists who primarily played defense – Jackson, Peppers and Nkemdiche – have combined to play every position on that side of the ball except defensive end. All four finalists combined have played every position in the offensive backfield and every receiver position, with McCaffrey playing every spot except tight end. McCaffrey, Peppers and Jackson also returned punts and kicks.
USC defensive back, wide receiver and return specialist, Adoree’ Jackson played defense, special teams and offense and was the only player nationally in 2015 to generate at least 400 yards receiving, 600 yards in kickoff returns, 250 yards in punt returns and 30 tackles. On defense, he had 35 tackles, one forced fumble, eight PBUs, nine pass deflections and one interception, and led the Trojans with 251 punt return yards and 690 kickoff return yards. Using his blazing speed and uncanny cutback ability with the ball, Jackson scored five touchdowns this season – two each receiving and punt returns, and one interception return. In the win over UCLA to decide the Pac-12 South champion, he had six tackles, two pass deflections, 53 yards on kickoff returns and a 42-yard punt return for a touchdown. Jackson earned first team All-Pac-12 honors at defensive back and second team honors as the return specialist.
The first-ever defensive lineman to be named a Paul Hornung Award finalist, Robert Nkemdiche from Ole Miss played a major role disrupting opponents’ backfields from his D-line spots, and made an impact on offense and special teams as the Rebels defeated Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State for the first ever in the same season. In the win over arch rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, he recorded 1.5 sacks for a loss of 12 yards as the Rebels’ defense dominated the game. A tremendous athlete who was considered a highly sought after NFL draft choice, Nkemdiche played defensive tackle, defensive end, H-back/tight end and protector on punts. He recorded 29 tackles, three sacks, seven tackles for loss, scored three touchdowns on offense (two rushing and one receiving) and blocked a kick as Ole Miss finished the regular season 9-3 earning a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
For his versatility on defense, offense and special teams, Jabrill Peppers was called “the Willie Mays of college football” by Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and was a huge part of the Wolverines’ amazing, turnaround season under the rookie coach. Peppers started every game at safety, saw playing time at three other defensive positions, returned kicks and punts, and during the second half of the season played offense as well. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, first team all-conference and second team Sports Illustrated All-America at safety and honorable mention Sports Illustrated All-America at all-purpose player. Peppers finished the Wolverines’ 9-3 regular season with 45 tackles and 10 pass breakups, while returning 17 punts for an 11.4 average and eight kickoffs for a 27.9 average, rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns, and made eight catches for 79 yards.