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: 

Alabama, BirminghamSRBrontae HarrisDB
Appalachian StateSRCaleb SpurlinDE
Arizona StateJRCristian ZendejasPK
ArkansasSRGrant MorganLB
Arkansas StateSophTW AyersDE/TE
Boise StateSRAvery WilliamsCB/KR/PR
Brigham YoungJRDax MilneWR
BuffaloSRJake MolinichTE
CaliforniaSRMarcel DancyRB
ClemsonSRWill SpiersP
Coastal CarolinaSRSammy ThompsonC/OL
ColoradoJRBrady RussellTE
Colorado StateJRBarry WesleyOT
East CarolinaSophTyler SneadIR/KR
Eastern MichiganJRHassan BeydounWR
Florida AtlanticSRRyan VeingradDL
Fresno StateFreshBralyn LuxDB
GeorgiaSophJack PodlesnyPK
Georgia StateJRJordan StrachanOLB
Georgia TechSRDjimon BrooksDL
HawaiiSRTaaga TuulimaOL
IowaSRKeith DuncanK
Iowa StateJRDerek SchweigerOL
KansasSRKwamie Lassiter IIWR
Kansas StateSRBlake LynchK
KentuckySRZach JohnsonS/KR
LouisianaJRShane VallotC
Louisiana TechSREzekiel BarnettLB
LouisvilleSophMarshon FordTE
MarshallSRNazeeh JohnsonS
MemphisJRCalvin Austin IIIWR
MississippiSRMac BrownP
MissouriSRDawson DowningRB
NebraskaJRKade WarnerWR
NevadaSRSam HammondDE
New MexicoFreshAndrew EricksonWR
New Mexico StateSRBrennon DavisLB
NorthwesternSRChris BerginLB
Notre DameJRMichael VinsonLS
Ohio StateSophXavier JohnsonRB
OklahomaSophDrake StoopsWR
Oklahoma StateSRRy SchneiderC
OregonJRRyan WalkOL
Oregon StateJRJaydon GrantDB
PittsburghSRJimmy MorrisseyC
RiceSREvan MarshmanQB
San Diego StateSophJesse MatthewsWR
San Jose StateSRTrevor RobbinsOL
South CarolinaSRParker WhitePK
Southern MethodistSophTyler LavineRB
StanfordJRBrycen TremanyneWR
SyracuseSRNolan CooneyP
TempleSRVincent PicozziOL
Texas A & MSRCagan BaldreeFB
Texas at San AntonioSRHunter DuplessisPK
Texas TechSophXavier WhiteRB
ToledoSRSamuel WomackCB
TroyJRCarlton MartialLB
TulaneSophNoah SeidenDE
UCLASREthan FerneaWR
UNC CharlotteJRChris ReynoldsQB
UtahSRDrew LiskQB
Utah StateSRNick HeningerOLB/DL
Wake ForestFreshNick AndersenDB
Washington StateJRBlake MazzaK
West VirginiaSRDante BonamicoDB
Western KentuckySROmari AlexanderDB

“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.