Georgia’s Brandon Boykin may have locked up the Paul Hornung Award when he ran back a punt 92 yards for a touchdown during the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Georgia senior cornerback/return specialist Brandon Boykin was named the 2011 Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, the Louisville Sports Commission and Paul Hornung announced Monday.
Boykin topped Arkansas’ Joe Adams, Oregon’s LaMichael James and Toledo’s Eric Page for the honor in the award’s second year. Boykin will now be honored Feb. 2 at the Galt House in downtown Louisville during the annual Paul Hornung Award banquet.
“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 Monday afternoon during a conference call with members of the national media to discuss the honor. “Being a Georgia Bulldog has helped groom me into the individual I am on and off the field. Winning the Paul Hornung Award is an amazing accomplishment and one that I will forever cherish as one of my greatest accomplishments. I am humbled by the fact that I was selected as the winner by Mr. Hornung and everyone 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.”
“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. “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 the Paul Hornung Award.”
Bulldog head coach Mark Richt said Monday he has witnessed Boykin be one of his defensive anchors since his sophomore season in 2009 as he started 38 career games for Georgia, including the last 22 in a row.
“There are not many players who have the skill sets Brandon possesses and he’s certainly the model of what the Hornung Award represents,” 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.”
The Fayetteville native was a second team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the league coaches and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist in 2011 after recording 55 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a safety. A threat in the return game as well, Boykin added 850 kickoff return yards and 180 punt return yards.
He was also used on the offensive side of the ball this year, rushing for 103 yards and a score and catching five passes for 71 yards and another two touchdowns. For his career, the 5-foot-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.
Boykin saved one of his top performances for his final collegiate game during the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 2. In a rare decision, Boykin was named the game’s overall Most Valuable Player despite No. 18 Georgia’s 33-30 overtime loss to No. 12 Michigan State.
On the Spartans’ first play on offense, Boykin recorded a safety after knocking Keshawn Martin into the end zone. He 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.
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.
STATE'S TOP PROSPECT JENKINS CHOOSES UGA OVER ALABAMA:
ATHENS — Georgia’s season may have ended in disappointing fashion with a heartbreaking 33-30 loss in triple overtime to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, but Bulldogs fans had reason to smile Monday when the program picked up one heck of a commitment.
Jordan Jenkins, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end from Harris County who is the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, gave his verbal commitment to the Bulldogs over Alabama on Monday, doing so live on Fox Sports South, saying, “I’m picking Georgia and I’d like to say ‘Go Dawgs.’ ”
Jenkins later told the AJC his decision came to down to where he felt most comfortable.
“Georgia is a better fit for me and my family together because I don’t want to go to some place where my mom is worried about me all the time. I just want to go to a place I can feel comfortable, and I can go to the coach and I can confide in him and stuff like that. And that’s why I chose (Georgia),” he said.