The award, given to the most versatile player in major college football, is in its fourth year of existence and includes 44 players on the preseason watch list. Lockett and Thompson are the second and third Wildcats up for the honor as Daniel Thomas was a candidate for the award in its inaugural season of 2010. In addition, K-State is one of three schools with multiple players on this year’s watch list.
A junior in 2013, Lockett is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country aside from being a threat as a wide receiver. An All-Big 12 Second Team performer as an all-purpose player, Lockett ranked third nationally in kickoff-return average at 32.76 last season, while his career 33.8 yards per return are tops among active players. His career average and four kickoff-return touchdowns rank second in both school and Big 12 history entering the 2013 campaign.
Lockett, who was a member of the initial Walter Camp Player of the Year Award watch list in 2012, started 11 games at wide receiver and ranked second on the team with 44 receptions for 687 yards and a team-high tying four touchdowns. He had a career night at West Virginia when he hauled in nine receptions for 194 yards and two touchdowns. His 194 receiving yards were the fifth-most in school history.
Thompson has been one of the Wildcats’ top receiving threats in each of his first three years but has burst on to the scene as one of the nation’s top punt returners. A career 1,122-yard receiver to rank 24th in school history, Thompson led the nation with a 19.75-yard punt return average in 2012 thanks to six that went for 20 or more yards. An honorable mention All-Big 12 performer, Thompson returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown in the 2012 season opener against Missouri State, while his career return average of 13.7 ranks fifth in K-State history.
A four-game starter at wide receiver, Thompson hauled in 37 passes for 526 yards and tied Lockett for team-high honors with four receiving touchdowns. A reliable playmaker, Thompson was on the receiving end of a team-best 14 catches that were third-down conversions last season and had one of the best performances of his career against North Texas when he caught five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite player for the Paul Hornung Award during the regular season and again during the bowl season. Fan voting will open in late September and factor into selection of the finalists and winner. In addition, a selection committee is comprised of 16 national sports journalists and former college and NFL players who vote for finalists then a winner. The winner will be honored at the official Paul Hornung Award Banquet held at the Galt House in downtown Louisville in late January 2014.
K-State opens the 2013 season and the West Stadium Center on Friday, August 30, against two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State. The sold-out contest, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will be shown nationally on FOX Sports 1.