Beckham claims Hornung Award

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. stiff arms Furman cornerback Jamarri Milliken. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. stiff arms Furman cornerback Jamarri Milliken.

LSU receiver and kick returner Odell Beckham Jr. won the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile athlete.

Beckham leads the Southeastern Conference and is second nationally averaging 185 all-purpose yards a game. He beat out four other finalists to capture the award, in its fourth year being given by the Louisville Sports Commission.

“I have never been around a more versatile player, so this award is very fitting,” LSU offensive coordinator and former NFL assistant Cam Cameron said in a statement.

During the regular season, Beckham caught 57 passes for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns, returned 30 kicks for 806 yards, returned 14 punts for 141 yards and carried the ball five times for 58 yards. He was top five in the SEC in punt return average, receptions per game, receiving yards per game and kick return average.

“It’s just an honor and a blessing to even be mentioned with the other guys who were up for the Hornung Award,” Beckham said in a statement. “I am proud to accept the award and thank the committee for recognizing me. It means a lot to me personally because I have worked extremely hard, long before this season started. I had great teammates help me along the way, especially on kickoff and punt returns. None of the opportunities to display my versatility would have been possible if it weren’t for my teammates and coaches who put me in a position to succeed.”

Beckham and his family will be honored Jan. 28 at a ceremony in downtown Louisville.

By that time, the LSU star will have decided if he’ll return for his senior year. Underclassmen must declare for the NFL draft by Jan. 15. Most believe Beckham will forgo his senior season. He’s projected to be selected in the top three rounds of the draft.

Beckham will have at least one more game to shine. No. 14 LSU (9-3, 5-3 SEC) meets unranked Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) on Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

Beckham needs 175 all-purpose yards against the Hawkeyes to break the SEC’s single-season record held by former Kentucky standout Randall Cobb. Beckham is third on the list, also trailing Arkansas running back Darren McFadden’s 2,310 yards.

Beckham missed nearly the final three quarters of the regular season finale win over Arkansas with a bruised hip. He’s expected to play in the Outback Bowl, according to coach Les Miles.

Beckham was chosen as the Hornung Award winner from among five finalists by a 16-member national Selection Committee comprised of sports journalists and retired NFL players and secured an additional first place vote from online fan voting.

The other finalists were Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews, Arizona State running back Marion Grice, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Created by the Louisville Sports Commission in 2010, the award is named for Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and NFL MVP for the Green Bay Packers. He set a single season NFL scoring record that stood 46 years.