The watch list for the Paul Hornung Award was announced on Friday and Rutgers receiver Janarion Grant was named as one of 43 nominees. He was nominated before last season as well.
From the press release on the Award:
The Paul Hornung Award, now in its seventh season, is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission and football legend and Louisville native Paul Hornung.
The Big Ten had six players nominated in total for this award, and it’s a who’s who of the conference’s elite playmakers. The others were Will Likely of Maryland, Jabril Peppers of Michigan, RJ Shelton of Michigan State, Desmond King of Iowa, and Dontre Wilson of Ohio State. Likely and Peppers finished ahead of Grant in the coaches vote for all-conference teams for kick returner last season. Grant also had more all-purpose yards in 2015 than all the nominees, with only Likely in the top ten aside from Grant, who was second only to Ezekiel Elliott.
Grant has returned a combined six kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in his Rutgers career. He set a program record with 984 return yards last season, best in the Big Ten, and has the career all-time program record with 2,411 return yards.
He also has 63 career receptions for 635 receiving yards and one touchdown, while also taking 13 carries for 132 yards rushing. The explosive Grant has averaged over 10 yards from scrimmage for his career. The only issue that has plagued Grant in the past is dropping too many balls. Perhaps having his number called more often will increase his sharpness and rhythm throughout the game, leading to less drops. When he does get going, Grant has the ability to dominate a game.
He set a program record with 337 all-purpose yards against Washington State last season. Grant ran both a kickoff return and punt return back for touchdowns. He almost had a third score as well, but a fourth quarter touchdown reception was called back due to a penalty.
Grant had 11 receptions and 140 yards in the Spring Game this past April. He will have a chance to flourish in the spread offense implemented by offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer. It’s amazing that Grant only has one touchdown from scrimmage for his career entering his senior season. Expect Grant to be used in a variety of ways on offense this season, including more carries out of the backfield and lining up in multiple receiver spots. Grant has an opportunity to become an elite and more complete player this season. After years of misuse on offense, Grant will have every chance to become a star in the Big Ten. And who knows, maybe a chance at winning the Paul Hornung Award.