BOULDER—Colorado sophomore Travis Hunter was named the recipient of the 2023 Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse, the Louisville Sports Commission announced Wednesday.

One of the most dynamic players of the modern era, Hunter successfully played both cornerback and wide receiver throughout the 2023 season, and despite missing three-and-a-half games due to injury, he played more snaps from scrimmage in the regular season than any player in the FBS.

“I would like to thank the Louisville Sports Commission for this award,” Hunter said.  “Paul Hornung accomplished great things that I also want to accomplish, and to be given the award in his name is truly amazing.  I’d like to thank all my teammates for their support and Coach Prime for the opportunity to play both ways and do whatever I can to help the Colorado Buffaloes.”

He finished the season playing 436 snaps on offense, 566 on defense and 30 on special teams to surpass the 1,000 plateau at 1,032, an average of 114.7 per game, or 121.4 when taking out the extra half he didn’t play against Colorado State.

On offense, he finished the season with 57 receptions for 721 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 80.1 yards per game and 6.3 receptions per game.  On defense, he had 30 tackles, including two for a loss, and added three interceptions and five pass breakups.

“Travis is a special player, a generational player, who has changed the game,” Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders said. “We had to find ways to utilize him to the best of his ability on both sides of the ball, where he could utilize his strengths and be a force. Thank you to the award committee for seeing in Travis what we do, not only that he’s a tremendous player, but also a tremendous person.  Travis hasn’t reached his full potential as of yet and his best is still coming!”

He is the first player in at least the last 25 seasons with 50-plus receptions and three or more interceptions, the only comparable season coming from Georgia’s Champ Bailey in 1998 when he had 47 receptions for 744 yards and five touchdowns offensively and three interceptions on defense.

He is the ninth player and this is the 11th major college football award for the Colorado Buffaloes, and the first in 21 seasons since Mark Mariscal won the 2002 Ray Guy Award.  Beginning in 1990 when Alfred Williams won the Butkus Award, CU had a solid decade of honors with Jim Hansen winning the William V. Campbell Trophy, the Academic Heisman, in 1992, the same season Deon Figures won the Jim Thorpe Award.

In 1994, Chris Hudson won CU’s second Thorpe while on the other side of the ball, Rashaan Salaam put together one of the most memorable seasons in college football history, putting together the fourth 2,000-yard rushing season in college football history and winning the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Trophy and Doak Walker Award.  Two years later Matt Russell won the school’s second Butkus Trophy.

Daniel Graham (2001, John Mackey Award) and Mark Mariscal (2002, Ray Guy Award) round out CU’s major college football awards, but that doesn’t tell the full story.

Several other Buffs have also won national awards, dating back to 1961 when Joe Romig was the UPI College Lineman of the Year, a likely candidate to what today would be the Outland Trophy.  Along those same lines, it’s hard to imagine Byron White not winning the Hornung Award or Dick Anderson having a good shot at the Thorpe Award or his brother Bobby winning either the Doak Walker or one of the quarterback awards in the 1960s, or Barry Helton, Keith English or Tom Rouen not vying for the Ray Guy Award throughout the 1980s.

From 1992-96, the above winners also won other awards with Figures winning the Jack Tatum Award, Salaam both the Chic Harley Award and Jim Brown Award, Michael Westbrook the Paul Warfield Award and Russell a “Timmie” Award.

More recently, Sefo Liufau won the 2016 Polynesian Player of the Year Award, Laviska Shenault the 2019 Paul Warfield Trophy and in 2020 Jarek Broussard was one of three winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year award.

1990      Alfred Williams                  Butkus Award
1992       Jim Hansen                         William V. Campbell Trophy
1992       Deon Figures                      Jim Thorpe Award
1994       Chris Hudson                     Jim Thorpe Award
1994       Rashaan Salaam                Heisman Trophy
1994       Rashaan Salaam                Doak Walker Award
1994       Rashaan Salaam                Walter Camp Trophy
1996       Matt Russell                       Butkus Award
2001       Daniel Graham                  John Mackey Award
2002       Mark Mariscal                    Ray Guy Award
2023       Travis Hunter                     Paul Hornung Award

Other National Awards
1961       Joe Romig                            UPI College Lineman of the Year
1992       Deon Figures                      Jack Tatum Award
1994       Rashaan Salaam                Chic Harley Award
1994       Rashaan Salaam                Jim Brown Award
1994       Michael Wastbrook         Paul Warfield Award
1996       Matt Russell                       “Timmie” Award
2016       Sefo Liufau                          Polynesian Player of the Year
2019       Laviska Shenault               Paul Warfield Award
2020       Jarek Broussard                Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year


Story by Curtis Snyder, Associate AD/Athletic Communications, from Content courtesy of the University of Colorado at Boulder.