Pitt wide receiver and return specialist Maurice Ffrench was placed on the Paul Hornung Award watch list on Thursday afternoon. The award has been in existence since 2010 and is given to one college football player annually based primarily on their versatility.
Past winners of the award include Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU in 2013, Jabrill Peppers of Michigan in 2016 and Saquon Barkley of Penn State in 2017. All but two of the nine previous Hornung Award winners served as return specialists in addition to filling other roles.
Ffrench is currently listed as a starter at wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner on Pitt’s preseason depth chart, and while his exact roles on the team may change, he is expected to be a key contributor for the Panthers this season. As such, he has already been placed on the Maxwell Award watch list and named to the preseason All-ACC team.
Last season, Ffrench led the ACC in average kick return yards, with 27.4 per return, as well as kick return touchdowns, with two. Those marks also placed him seventh and second in the nation, respectively. All told, Ffrench ended up with 10 total touchdowns in 2018, as he scored six more on receptions and two more on runs. He also contributed 515 receiving yards and 164 rushing yards in addition to his 547 kick return yards, making him one of the team’s more productive players.
The native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, is one of 44 players who were placed on the preseason watch list for the Hornung Award and one of just four ACC players on the list. The other three are Dazz Newsome of North Carolina, Joe Reed of Virginia and Sean Riley of Syracuse. Finalists for the Hornung Award will be determined by a 17-person selection committee that includes former NFL athletes and sports journalists. Fans will also have a say, as they will take part in the 18th vote.