Wetumpka’s Golden named to Hornung Watch list
By Tim Gayle
The first of the preseason watch lists in college football was released on Monday and while it contained no players from Auburn or Alabama, it did highlight a familiar player in the River Region.
The Paul Hornung Award watch list was released on Monday, listing 44 of the top all-purpose players in college football, including Wetumpka’s Jamal Golden.
Golden, a fifth-year senior cornerback at Georgia Tech, was a third team all-Atlantic Coast Conference specialist last year and was the only player in 2012 to rank among the top 10 in both punt returns and kick returns before a shoulder injury early in 2013 finished his season. He was granted a fifth year of eligibility in 2014 and now returns for his senior season after recording 710 yards on 30 kickoff returns last year and adding another 45 yards on punt returns.
Golden also led the Yellow Jackets with four interceptions in 2014.
Golden and 43 other players were named to the watch list by the Louisville (Ky.) Sports Commission, including South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie, Texas A&M’s Speedy Noil, Kentucky’s Stanley Williams and Jaylen Walton of Ole Miss. It does not include players from Alabama and Auburn, whose return specialists are undetermined. Alabama’s Christion Jones handled both duties last year, while Auburn’s top specialists were split among graduating seniors Quan Bray (punts) and Corey Grant (kickoffs).
The 2015 watch list was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2014 statistics, career performance, SID recommendations and expectations heading into the 2015 season. The winner and his family will be honored at the annual Paul Hornung Award banquet in downtown Louisville in February 2016.
“I’m ecstatic that the Paul Hornung Award has gained national prominence in such a short time,” said Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner who played every position in the offensive backfield during his Notre Dame career and was a triple threat halfback for the Green Bay Packers of the early 1960s. “The quality of our winners, finalists and weekly honorees has been impressive, and I’m pleased that we are able to acknowledge outstanding players who contribute any way possible to help their teams win, the way I did with Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers.”
The watch list is comprised of 11 seniors, 22 juniors and 11 sophomores who start at a total of eight different positions and represent 40 universities and all 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Pac-12 leads the conferences with eight players followed by the ACC and Big Ten with seven players and the SEC with six players.
The Football Writers Association of America, which coordinates the release of the watch lists every year, will start two weeks of releases on Tuesday with the release of the Bednarik Award watch list, honoring the nation’s top defensive player, and the Maxwell Award, honoring the nation’s top college player.