Burlsworth Trophy Announces Nominees




John Engleman, Mitchell




Burlsworth Trophy Announces Nominees

Trophy honors most outstanding Walk-On for eleventh year


FAYETTEVILLE, AR, Dec. 8, 2020 – Today, the Burlsworth Trophy announced 67 players nominated from Division 1 (FBS) schools from across the country for the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy. In the award’s eleventh year, the Trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former University of Arkansas Walk-On and All-American offensive lineman. Burlsworth’s life is also the subject of a major motion picture, “GREATER”, which was released in 2016.  The Burlsworth Trophy is given to the most outstanding football player in American who began his career as a Walk-On and has shown outstanding performance on the field. Each nominee must have begun his first season of participation with FBS (D1) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department.


The 2019 winner was defensive end Kenny Willekes from Michigan State University. After receiving no division one scholarship offers, Willekes walked-on at Michigan State, where he became All-American, the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the Year, and Michigan State’s all-time leader in tackles for loss (51). The 2018 winner was Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow, who had 186 receptions for 2133 yards and 15 touchdowns, four of which were in national championship games.


The 2020 Burlsworth Trophy nominees are:


School Grade Player Position
Alabama, Birmingham SR Brontae Harris DB
Appalachian State SR Caleb Spurlin DE
Arizona State JR Cristian Zendejas PK
Arkansas SR Grant Morgan LB
Arkansas State Soph TW Ayers DE/TE
Boise State SR Avery Williams CB/KR/PR
Brigham Young JR Dax Milne WR
Buffalo SR Jake Molinich TE
California SR Marcel Dancy RB
Clemson SR Will Spiers P
Coastal Carolina SR Sammy Thompson C/OL
Colorado JR Brady Russell TE
Colorado State JR Barry Wesley OT
East Carolina Soph Tyler Snead IR/KR
Eastern Michigan JR Hassan Beydoun WR
Florida Atlantic SR Ryan Veingrad DL
Fresno State Fresh Bralyn Lux DB
Georgia Soph Jack Podlesny PK
Georgia State JR Jordan Strachan OLB
Georgia Tech SR Djimon Brooks DL
Hawaii SR Taaga Tuulima OL
Iowa SR Keith Duncan K
Iowa State JR Derek Schweiger OL
Kansas SR Kwamie Lassiter II WR
Kansas State SR Blake Lynch K
Kentucky SR Zach Johnson S/KR
Louisiana JR Shane Vallot C
Louisiana Tech SR Ezekiel Barnett LB
Louisville Soph Marshon Ford TE
Marshall SR Nazeeh Johnson S
Memphis JR Calvin Austin III WR
Mississippi SR Mac Brown P
Missouri SR Dawson Downing RB
Nebraska JR Kade Warner WR
Nevada SR Sam Hammond DE
New Mexico Fresh Andrew Erickson WR
New Mexico State SR Brennon Davis LB
Northwestern SR Chris Bergin LB
Notre Dame JR Michael Vinson LS
Ohio State Soph Xavier Johnson RB
Oklahoma Soph Drake Stoops WR
Oklahoma State SR Ry Schneider C
Oregon JR Ryan Walk OL
Oregon State JR Jaydon Grant DB
Pittsburgh SR Jimmy Morrissey C
Rice SR Evan Marshman QB
San Diego State Soph Jesse Matthews WR
San Jose State SR Trevor Robbins OL
South Carolina SR Parker White PK
Southern Methodist Soph Tyler Lavine RB
Stanford JR Brycen Tremanyne WR
Syracuse SR Nolan Cooney P
Temple SR Vincent Picozzi OL
Texas A & M SR Cagan Baldree FB
Texas at San Antonio SR Hunter Duplessis PK
Texas Tech Soph Xavier White RB
Toledo SR Samuel Womack CB
Troy JR Carlton Martial LB
Tulane Soph Noah Seiden DE
UCLA SR Ethan Fernea WR
UNC Charlotte JR Chris Reynolds QB
Utah SR Drew Lisk QB
Utah State SR Nick Heninger OLB/DL
Wake Forest Fresh Nick Andersen DB
Washington State JR Blake Mazza K
West Virginia SR Dante Bonamico DB
Western Kentucky SR Omari Alexander DB



“A college football Walk-On faces an uphill battle from the very beginning. He has to prove himself to his coaches and teammates. He has to prove that he belongs,” said Marty Burlsworth, President and CEO of the Burlsworth Trophy and older brother of Brandon. “Beginning your college football career as a Walk-On isn’t for everyone. It takes a tremendous work ethic and a great deal of determination. You have to want it! This group of Burlsworth Trophy nominees has proven to the college football world that they not only belong but can excel at the highest level of the game.”


Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon Burlsworth walked on at the University of Arkansas in 1994. He became 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 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 who have limited opportunities.


The Burlsworth Trophy will host an awards ceremony virtually on January 4, 2021 to honor the three finalists and to announce the 2020 winner.


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