Velus Jones Jr. Named to Paul Hornung Award Watch List

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    (Photo via Wes Rucker/247Sports)

    Several of Tennessee’s football players have been named to preseason watch lists for annual awards this month. Another Vol was added to a watch list on Thursday afternoon.

    Velus Jones Jr., one of UT’s newest additions to the roster, has been named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list. The Paul Hornung Award is given annually to the most versatile player in college football. The award is named after Paul Hornung, a standout for Notre Dame and winner of the 1956 Heisman Trophy.

    This year’s finalists for the Paul Hornung Award will be announced on November 14th. The winner will be decided on December 11th.

    Jones is one of 50 players to be named to the preseason watch list, and he’s one of eight SEC players to make the preseason list.

    Jones joins the Vols as a graduate transfer from USC. The fifth-year wide receiver has proven to be a reliable kick returner in his collegiate career while serving as a wide receiver on offense. Jones was named to the Preseason All-SEC Third Team as a returner by Athlon Sports earlier this offseason.

    The 6-foot, 202-pound athlete caught 36 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown in four seasons with the Trojans, but his impact on special teams was even greater. Jones returned a kick-off for a score during the 2019 campaign, and he’s returned 81 kicks for a total of 1,947 yards, giving him a career kick return average of 24.0 yards a return.

    Because of his prowess as a returner, Jones was named an All-Pac-12 performer each of the last three seasons.

    No Vol has ever won the Paul Hornung Award, nor has any Tennessee player been named a finalist or semifinalist for the award. All-SEC kick returner Evan Berry was added to the preseason watch list for the award back in 2017, however.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.