Florida State Seminoles have amassed significant preseason recognition this summer, with Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield being the latest to make headlines. The Paul Hornung Award Watch List was released earlier today, and the 5-7 sophomore was among those named. The award, created by the Louisville Sports Commission in 2010, is presented annually to the most versatile player in major college football.
Whitfield, arguably the fastest player in the country, made a name for himself last season as a kick returner. He averaged a nation-best 36.4 yards per return, and brought two kicks back for touchdowns, including a dramatic fourth-quarter TD return in the BCS title game against Auburn.
But Whitfield is more than just a return man. He rushed three times last season, and turned two of the attempts into touchdowns while averaging 36.7 yards per carry. He also caught five passes and averaged 17.8 yards per reception.
While Whitfield will resume his return duties this fall, he’ll also play a bigger part in the passing game. Look for head coach Jimbo Fisher to get him the ball in space to allow him to utilize his speed (bubble screens, reverses, etc.).
47 players were named to the preseason list, led by a finalist from last year, UCLA RB/LB Myles Jack (last year’s award went to LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.). The ACC and the Big Ten have the most nominees, with ten each. The Pac-12 is third with seven, the Big 12 is fourth with five, and the SEC comes in fifth with four nominees.
As far as in-state nominees go, Whitfield is joined by Miami’s Stacy Coley, South Florida’s Chris Dunkley, and Central Florida’s Rannell Hall. There are no Florida Gators on the list.
There are a number of award watch lists being released over the next couple weeks. Be sure to check back with ChopChat to find out which ‘Noles are making the cut.