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Penn State's Saquon Barkley wins Paul Hornung Award for his versatility

Barkley, the first Nittany Lion to win the award, scored touchdowns by rushing, receiving, and returning kickoffs, and even threw a TD pass.

Saquon Barkley has won the Hornung Award.
Saquon Barkley has won the Hornung Award.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has won the 2017 Paul Hornung Award honoring the most versatile player in college football, the sponsoring Louisville Sports Commission announced Wednesday.

Barkley, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior who became the first Nittany Lion to win the award, led the Big Ten and finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 179.5 per game. He ranked in the top 10 in the conference in rushing yards (1,134), catches (47), receiving yards (594) and kickoff-return average (28.4 yards).

He scored 21 touchdowns – 16 rushing, three receiving and two on kickoff returns. He also threw a touchdown pass.

Barkley called his selection an honor.

"I am so appreciative of Mr. Hornung and the Louisville Sports Commission for selecting me for this very special honor," Barkley said in a statement. "I have to give a lot of the credit to my teammates and coaches. They are the reason that I am in position to win this award, and I could not have done it without them."

Hornung, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and a star running back and placekicker with the Green Bay Packers, said, "Saquon Barkley has the skills and determination to impact games from several positions. He is a team player who performs at the highest level in big games, and a fantastic addition to our list of Paul Hornung Award recipients."

Barkley's coach, James Franklin, said he has "never coached or seen a player who can affect the game the way Saquon Barkley does."

"The Hornung Award is not only honoring the most versatile player in college football, but is also recognizing one of the best people in college football," Franklin said.

Barkley, who will receive the Hornung Award at a dinner March 7 in Louisville, Ky., is a finalist for the Maxwell Award for college player of the year, the Walter Camp player-of-the-year award, and the Doak Walker Award for the nation's top running back. The winners of those awards will be announced Thursday.