2014 Preseason Award Projections: Hornung Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2014 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2015 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Paul Hornung Award is given to the most versatile player in college football. Last year’s winner was LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Paul Hornung Award Winner:

Stefon Diggs, Maryland

The Hornung Award likes players who star on offense and special teams. Fitting that criteria, Diggs looks like a heavy favorite to bring home the hardware.

Diggs is one of the most electric players in college football and should be poised for a breakout junior season. Diggs made an immediate impact as a freshamn in 2012, catching 54 passes for 848 yards with six touchdowns. He had a big impact on special teams as well. Diggs averaged 10 yards per punt return and 28.5 yards on his kick returns. He had two kicks brought back for touchdowns. As a sophomore, Diggs was off to a great start. He recorded 34 receptions for 587 yards (17.3 average) and three touchdowns before breaking his right fibula in October 2013. The injury caused him to miss the rest of the season.

The ingredients seem to be there for Diggs to have a huge season. Maryland has some weak opponents early in the year before some challenging Big Ten programs. Diggs could pad his stats against the weak teams and add to those numbers as Maryland trails against the better opponents and features Diggs to try to compete with the likes of Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Plus, Maryland will want the ball in Diggs’ hands as much as possible so he should see return opportunities once again. Diggs could put up a ton of all-purpose yardage in 2014.

Paul Hornung Award Runner-Up:

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

Montgomery is a big-play receiver who has gone under the radar because Stanford is known for its smash-mouth running offense. However, Montgomery has special speed to go along with excellent. He is fast to get vertical and has the size to outfight defenders for the ball.

As a freshman in 2011, Montgomery worked well with Andrew Luck in limited playing time. Montgomery hauled in 24 receptions for 350 yards with two scores. The next season his numbers were down, but the junior produced well. Montgomery caught 61 passes for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has been a weapon on special teams. Montgomery was second in the nation in kick returns in 2013 with an average of 30 yards per return with two touchdown returns.

Montgomery is the explosive threat in the Stanford offense, so he should get plenty of opportunities to impress as a senior. It wouldn’t be surprising if Montgomery wins the Hornung Award.

Paul Hornung Award Dark Horse:

Stacy Coley, Miami

Coley flashed some big-play ability as a freshman in 2013. He averaged 18 yards per reception on his 33 catches for 591 yards with seven touchdowns. On special teams, Coley also showed big play potential. He averaged 26 yards per kick return and 20 yards per punt return. Coley had a return touchdown on kickoffs and punts.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder could produce a big sophomore season and is darkhorse candidate for postseason honors like the Paul Hornung Award.

Honorable Mentions: Oregon wide receiver Bralon Addison, USC wide receiver Nelson Agholar, Florida wide receiver Andre Debose, Alabama wide receiver Christon Jones and Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman.

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