ATHENS – The two-year-old Paul Hornung Award was designed to go to the most versatile college football player in the nation. Hard to argue against Georgia’s Brandon Boykin when you start talking about versatility.
The Bulldogs’ senior cornerback was named the recipient of that award Monday morning. He topped Arkansas’ Joe Adams, Oregon’s LaMichael James and Toledo’s Eric Page to earn the honor.
“Winning the Paul Hornung Award is an amazing accomplishment and one that I will forever cherish as one of my greatest accomplishments,” Boykin said in a statement released through UGA. “I am humbled by the fact that I was selected as the winner by Mr. Hornung andeveryone else involved with the selection process. I would like to thank my teammates, coaches, fans and the entire Georgia program for helping me to achieve this incredible achievement.”
Boykin’s performance this past season left little to chance. The Fayetteville resident finished the 2011 season with these stats:
For his career, the 5-10, 183-pound Bulldog is Georgia’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage with 2,663, which ranks second on the SEC’s all-time list. Boykin is also the only player in SEC history with three 100-yard plays of any kind. He completes his UGA career with 159 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, nine interceptions, four kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown.
“It’s rare for a modern-day college football player to perform at a high level in all three phases of the game, especially in an elite conference,” Paul Hornung said in a release. “From what I’ve seen of Brandon Boykin, he is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win games. That’s how I played the game. Brandon Boykin is a deserving winner of thePaul Hornung Award.”
Boykin saved his best for last. Boykin was named Most Valuable Player in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2 despite the fact his team lost to Michigan State 33-30 in overtime. Again, Boykin left little to chance.
On the Spartans’ first offensive play, Boykin recorded a safety by knocking Keshawn Martin into the end zone after he received a pass on a quick hitch route. Boykin extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 16-0 late in the first half on a bowl record-breaking 92-yard punt return for a touchdown. Boykin then helped Georgia recapture the lead in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Aaron Murray.
In addition, Boykin finished with four kickoff returns for 70 yards, giving him a school record 2,663 yards on 110 returns (24.21 yards/return). The Bulldogs starting cornerback was also fourth on the team with seven tackles, including two for loss, and had two carries for eight yards against the Spartans.
“There are not many players who have the skill sets Brandon possesses and he’s certainly the model of what the Hornung Award represents,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I wish I had three of him. He could start on offense, defense and special teams. He’s an outstanding person as well, a great leader, and a great Georgia man. We have been blessed to have him as a Georgia Bulldog.”
Boykin will now join three of his teammates at the 2012 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 28 as he prepares for the NFL Draft.
“My experience at Georgia has changed my life in so many positive ways and allowed me to be considered for such a prestigious honor,” Boykin said. “Being a Georgia Bulldog has helped groom me into the individual I am on and off the field.”
Here’s a pretty good tribute video somebody made of Boykin’s great plays. Underscores how much the Bulldogs are going to miss him. Warning: May want to turn down sound due to some strong language in accompanying music. . . .