2014 Finalists


Top Three Finalists Announced for Burlsworth Trophy

Winner to be named on Dec.8, fans encouraged to vote

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Nov. 24, 2014 – The three finalists for the 5th annual Burlsworth Trophy have been selected and include East Carolina Receiver, Justin Hardy; Iowa Running Back, Mark Weisman; and Mississippi State Guard, Ben Beckwith. The three finalists were chosen from 55 nominees from across the nation and last week was narrowed to 10 semi-finalists. The Burlsworth Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding college football player in America who began his career as a walk on. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Dec. 8 in Springdale, Ark. and is presented by the Springdale Rotary Club.

The 2014 finalists are:

Justin Hardy, SR, Receiver, East Carolina

Hardy has amassed more catches than any player in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision history. He enters the final game of the regular season with 355 catches for his career at East Carolina, breaking the record of 349 previously set by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles in 2011. Hardy ranks fourth in the country with 89 catches this season and has 1,106 yard receiving with seven touchdowns.

Last season Hardy started all 13 games and was named as a Burlsworth Trophy semifinalist. He finished with 114 catches for 1,284 receiving yards, both school records. Hardy was named as an All-Conference USA selection.

Fayetteville State, an NCAA Division II school in North Carolina, was Hardy’s only scholarship offer out of high school. He walked-on at East Carolina in January 2010 and after a redshirt season began to establish himself as a freshman, earning Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors from Phil Steele on his way to a record-setting career.

Mark Weisman, SR, Running Back, Iowa

Weisman has 14 rushing touchdowns in 11 games for the Hawkeyes this season, a total that ranks No. 15 in the country and fifth-best all-time at Iowa. He is just the third player in Hawkeyes history to score 30 touchdowns and is leading the team in rushing for a third consecutive year.

As a junior Weisman led the team with eight rushing touchdowns. He also scored eight rushing touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. He is one of 10 players in school history to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a career.

Immediately after senior high school season in which he ran for 1,657 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior, Weisman enrolled at the Air Force Academy. He withdrew as a freshman and enrolled at Iowa where he has gone on to become one of the top-scoring running backs in school history. Weisman earned a scholarship in Spring 2013.

Ben Beckwith, SR, Guard, Mississippi State

Beckwith, a versatile offensive lineman, plays both left and right guard for the Bulldogs. He can also line up at center for Mississippi State, which enters the final weekend of the regular season ranked No. 4. Beckwith’s plays on the offensive line has helped the Bulldogs amass an SEC-leading 511.7 yards per game with 39.0 points per game.

Beckwith was lightly recruited and not rated by any major recruiting publications out of Benton (Miss.) Academy, a Class A private high school, but has been a fixture on the offensive line the past two seasons. The 2014 season finale will be Beckwith’s 24th consecutive start. Beckwith, who earned a scholarship last season, was offered a walk-on spot after coaches watched him in a summer football camp. He has been named the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week 3 times.

Fans are allowed to vote for their favorite player via the Fan Vote. Voting can be accessed at www.burlsworthtrophy.com and began with the top 10 semi-finalists and continue as the selection committee announces the winner on Dec. 8. Fans are limited to one vote per day, and the voting will conclude on Dec. 7 at 12:00 a.m. CST. Finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2014 Burlsworth Trophy announced Dec. 8 at a banquet in Springdale, Ark., sponsored by the Springdale Rotary Club.

The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 < [p>NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.

The Fan Vote counts as 5 percent during each round of voting, and it is combined with the results from the Selection Committee. Fans can cast their vote for the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on once per day. Fan Vote totals are cleared after each round.

For more information about the Burlsworth Trophy, visit www.burlsworthtrophy.com.