As Michigan State fans gear up to return to Spartan Stadium this summer/fall, two more Spartans were placed on a watch list for a national award. In this case, it was announced on Thursday that junior wide receiver Jayden Reed and senior tailback Connor Heyward have been named to the Paul Hourning Award Watch List, which honor’s the nation’s most versatile player.
The award was established in January 2010 by the Louisville Sports Commission in honor of Paul Hornung, a multi-sport and multi-position athlete and Louisville native who played at Notre Dame in the 1950s and in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers until the mid 1960s.
In 2020, the award was won by Alabama wide receiver and return specialist DeVonta Smith. Three of the past five awards have been won by Big Ten players, including Rondale Moore of Purdue (2018), Saquon Barkley of Penn State (2017) and Jabrill Peppers of Michigan (2016).
Reed and Heyward are two of only eight Big Ten players on the list. The other Big Ten athletes who made the cut are Aron Cruickshank (Rutgers), Jahan Dotson (Penn State), Jeshaun Jones (Maryland), DJ Matthews (Indiana), Stephon Robinson Jr. (Northwestern), and Garret Wilson (Ohio State). The entire preseason watch list includes 57 total players.
Reed enters the season as Michigan State’s primary weapon at the wide receiver position. However, Reed is also expected to act as a return specialist on punt and/or kick-offs, which is likely the reason that he was included on the list.
As for Heyward, he has acted an an offensive Swiss Army knife throughout his career. Heyward is competing for the starting running back position in a crowded positional group. That said, his versatility in pass protection, blocking and catching passes out of the backfield will make it difficult to keep him off the field this fall.
Reed, Heyward and the rest of Spartans open the season on Sept. 3 at Northwestern. Go Green.