By Melville Van Buren
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A third national watch list has tabbed Indiana football sophomore Jaylin Lucas as a preseason candidate for its award, this time the Walter Camp Football Foundation has the running back/return specialist among the 45 preseason candidates for the national player of the year award.
Lucas is now among the preseason candidates for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation’s most versatile player in major college football, and the Doak Walker Award, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding collegiate running back. Earlier this year, Lucas was tabbed first-team All-America by Walter Camp on its preseason All-America Team.
A first-team All-America selection as a true freshman, Lucas was the first Hoosier in program history and first freshman in Big Ten history to earn the conference’s Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year. The running back/return specialist was the only player in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with multiple kickoff returns for a touchdown in 2022.
He led the Big Ten in combined kick return yardage (591) and kickoff return yards per game (28.1 ypg) and was among the top 16 in the conference in all-purpose yards per game (85.8 ypg). His game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown at Rutgers was the first kickoff return score at IU since Tevin Coleman in 2012 (at Northwestern). His two kickoff returns each went 90-plus yards and he added a 71-yard touchdown run for three scores of 70-plus yards. He was the first Hoosier since Coleman in 2014 with three 70-yard scoring plays in a single season.
The first-team All-Big Ten selection at kick returner, Lucas rushed for 141 of his 271 yards over his last three games (at Ohio State, at Michigan State, vs. Purdue). His best game from scrimmage came against the Boilermakers with 110 yards rushing on nine carries to go along with five receptions.
The 2022 watch list will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in mid-November. The 2023 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 133 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on ESPN’s College Football Awards Show in December. The winner will then receive his trophy at the Foundation’s 57th annual national awards banquet in New Haven, Connecticut, in early 2023.
Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.
The Walter Camp Football Foundation is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday. Sixteen NCFAA members are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period as the association spearheads a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. For more information about the NCFAA and its award programs, visit the redesigned NCFAA.org or follow on Twitter at @NCFAA.
COURTESY INDIANA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS