MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s football team is expecting major production from wide receiver Jared Abbrederis all over the field. It turns out, the rest of the college football world is, too.
For the second straight year, Abbrederis is among those under consideration for the Paul Hornung Award, which recognizes the nation’s most versatile college football player.
The award, in its fourth year, is presented in honor of Hornung, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. He won the 1956 Heisman Trophy and was named NFL MVP in 1961 during a pro career in which he won four championships with the Green Bay Packers.
Abbrederis, a senior, is one of the country’s top returning wide receivers and a standout as a punt and kickoff returner. He has tallied 2,059 career receiving yards, which ranks sixth in Wisconsin history. His 16 career receiving touchdowns also rank sixth in program history. Abbrederis is the nation’s top returning wide receiver in yards-per-catch average, owning a career average of 16.6 yards per reception.
Additionally, Abbrederis holds Wisconsin’s record for kickoff return average at 25.8 yards per return and ranks No. 5 all-time in punt return average at 11.2 yards. His punt return average ranks second nationally among returning players with at least 40 career returns, and his 493 career punt return yards ranks fourth among returning FBS players.
Last season, Abbrederis was Wisconsin’s leading receiver with 49 catches for 837 yards and five touchdowns. His 837 receiving yards ranked third among Big Ten players despite Abbrederis missing the second half of Wisconsin’s game against Oregon State and the entire Utah State game with a head injury.
Abbrederis’ production dropped over the final eight games of the season as Wisconsin struggled to develop a second receiving threat. He didn’t catch a touchdown pass during that span and averaged just 2.8 catches and 40.1 yards per game.
Still, he became just the fourth Wisconsin player to record 800 receiving yards in multiple seasons, joining Travis Beckum, Lee Evans and Nick Toon. He also became the first Wisconsin player since Evans in 2001 to register three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, when he notched a career-high 147-yards against UTEP, 142 yards against Nebraska and 117 yards against Illinois.
Abbrederis is one of five Big Ten players on the Paul Hornung Award watch list, joining Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Ohio State’s Corey Brown, Purdue’s Akeem Hunt and Northwestern’s Venric Mark.
A 16-member selection committee of media members and former players will determine a pool of finalists and vote on the Hornung Award, with a fan vote on Facebook accounting for the 17th vote. The winner will be honored at a banquet in Louisville, Ky., in January. Last season, West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin won the award.