LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- University of Oregon all-purpose threats Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas have been named to the 2012 Paul Hornung Award watch list for the nation's most versatile player, the Louisville Sports Commission has announced.
Barner, the Ducks' leading returning running back with 939 yards a year ago, enters his senior season ranked fourth in career kickoff return yards (1,371) and ninth in all-purpose yards (3,825) at UO. He is the only player in Oregon history with plays of 60-plus yards rushing (84), receiving (60), and as both a punt returner (80) and kickoff returner (100). The 5-11, 195-pound Riverside, Calif., native is also on the watch lists for Maxwell Award (college player of the year) and Doak Walker Award (nation's top running back).
Thomas, coming off a freshman All-America campaign, was the only player in college football last season to amass at least 500 yards rushing, receiving and returning. He finished with 2,235 all-purpose yards - second all-time in a single season at Oregon - and a school freshman record 18 touchdowns. A Crenshaw, Calif., product, the 5-9 Thomas has been named to watch lists for the Walter Camp and Maxwell player of the year awards.
Of the 49 players on the watch list, ten are from the Pac-12 Conference. The Ducks are one of only four teams with multiple players on the list.
The Ducks, the preseason No. 5 team according to the USA Today coaches' poll, open their 2012 season at home Sept. 1 vs. 2011 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State. Kickoff on ESPN is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.
About the Paul Hornung Award: The Louisville Sports Commission successfully launched the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 to honor its namesake and native son and to promote outstanding performances by versatile college football players who often go unnoticed. Owen Marecic of Stanford, a two-way starter and All Pac-10 performer at fullback and linebacker, won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award; Brandon Boykin of Georgia won the award in 2011 after excelling on defense, offense and special teams.