Watch list news this time of year comes hot and heavy, but some are a bit more impressive than the others. For the Western Michigan Broncos, and senior defensive back Darius Phillips, it’s the second straight year of an impressive preseason accolade as the Bronco was named to the 2017 watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, the only Mid-American Conference player named to the list. It was Phillips’ second consecutive year being named to the list.
Each year since 2010, the award has been given to the nation's most versatile player, usually playing multiple positions on offense, defense, special teams, or some combination therein. Past winners include Odell Beckham Jr., Shaq Thompson, and Tavon Austin.
Last year Phillips was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year after returning a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. For his career he now has three kickoffs and one punt returned for a TD. As a defensive back he intercepted four passes last season with three of them going for touchdowns. He currently owns the MAC single season (3) and career (4) records for interceptions returned for scores.
Phillips finished the season with three of the top-25 longest interception returns in the country. His TD returns totaled, 70, 75 and 85 yards.
The winner and his family will be honored at the annual Paul Hornung Award Banquet presented by KentuckyOne Health, to be held at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville on March 8, 2018. This will be The Paul Hornung Award’s second year as an associate member of the prestigious National College Football Awards Association.