Washington two-way star Shaq Thompson Friday was named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award, presented annually to college football’s most versatile player. A Sacramento native, Thompson was selected by the 16-member Louisville Sports Commission and will be officially recognized at a banquet in Louisville, KY., Jan. 27.
A junior, Thompson made first-team All-Pac-12 at linebacker and first-team All-Pac-12 as an all-purpose/special teams player. Named first-team All-America by CBSsports.com Wednesday along with teammate Hau’oli Kikaha, he started three games at running back and twice exceeded 100 yards — 174 vs. Colorado and 100 vs. UCLA. He rushed for 456 yards, second most on the team, and two touchdowns.
Thompson was co-national leader in fumble recoveries with four, and had four return touchdowns, three on fumble recoveries. In Washington’s victory over Illinois, Thompson became the first player in UW history to return a fumble and an interception for a touchdown in the same game. He also had a 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Cal.
Thompson’s award is named after Paul Hornung, a Louisville native who won the 1956 Heisman Trophy while playing for Notre Dame before embarking on a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s a great honor for me,” Thompson said. “I had an opportunity to show my versatility on both sides of the ball this year and I’m just happy that I was able to accomplish all I did this season and be recognized for my effort.”
The commission, composed of sports journalists and retired NFL players, selected Thompson over four other finalists: Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska), B.J. Catalon (TCU), Ty Montgomery (Stanford) and Marcus Murphy (Missouri).
“For a player to perform at such a high level in so many different ways is so unusual and impressive,” said Washington coach Chris Petersen. “We’re grateful that all of his hard work has been recognized.”
Thompson joins some elite company. Last year’s winner, receiver Odell Beckham Jr., of Louisiana State, is now starring for the New York Giants.
Thompson has one more game remaining, the Jan. 2 Cactus Bowl in Tempe, AZ., against Oklahoma State. Thompson projects as a first-round pick in the NFL draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Thompson is the third Husky to win a national postseason award, following Greg Lewis, who won the 1990 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top senior running back, and Steve Emtman, who won both the Lombardi Trophy and Outland Trophy in 1991 as the nation’s top lineman.