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Pair of Nittany Lions named award finalists

A pair of offensive players represent Penn State football as finalists for some season awards. 

Penn State football quarterback Trace McSorley and wide receiver K.J. Hamler were named award finalists Thursday. McSorley was named a finalist for the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and Hamler was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Paul Hornung Award.

McSorley has put up respectable numbers this season (1,712 passing yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTS, 611 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs). Considering he lost some major offensive weapons (Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, and DaeSean Hamilton), McSorley has done his best to be productive this season. The 2018 season shouldn’t distract fans from the fact that McSorley is still the best statistical quarterback in Penn State history.

A loaded list of finalists will make it difficult for McSorley to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is given to a quarterback in their fourth of fifth year of play.Finalists include Washington State QB Gardner Minshew, who leads all FBS quarterbacks in passing yardage and boasts a 70.8 percent completion rating, and West Virginia signal caller Will Grier, who has bounced back into the Heisman conversation after a big win against Texas.

As for redshirt freshman K.J. Hamler, the talented wide receiver makes a strong case to take home the Paul Hornung Award, which honors the nation’s most versatile player (Saquon Barkley won the award in 2017). Hamler is an elusive return specialist and playmaker, who makes the most out of his 5’9″, 173 lb. frame.

This season, Hamler’s totaled five games where he’s had 100-plus all-purpose yards. The Pontiac, Mich. native is  third in the Big Ten with 1,118 all-purpose yards (124.2 per game). Hamler is leading all Big Ten kick/punt returners in combined return yardage. Hamler was awarded the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll for big performances against Pitt and Ohio State.

Much like McSorley, Hamler faces stiff competition in the race for the Hornung Award. He’ll be going up against award finalists such as Purdue WR – and breakout Big Ten star – Rondale Moore, Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry, Louisiana-Monroe WR Marcus Green, and Michigan State RB Connor Heyward.

Next: Penn State Football: Recruits react to big loss to Michigan

As of now, it seems like Moore is the leader in the clubhouse, but if Hamler can string together big performances over the next three games, he may be the second Nittany Lion in a row to take home the award.


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