The award, voted on annually by NCAA Sports Information Directors, will be presented for the first time at the 2007 North South All-Star Classic in Houston, Texas, to the Division IA level collegiate athlete who demonstrates exceptional talent and skill in returning punts or kickoffs. The individual should also represent their team and university with the highest standard of character.
Henderson leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fourth nationally with a 16.9 punt return average. He is on pace to set the school record with that average and has tied the mark for most punt return touchdowns in a season with two. Henderson had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown against 13th-ranked Tennessee, which is the longest by an SEC player this year.
Along with Henderson, the semi-finalists for the award include the following: Ray Baum (Iowa St), Darrell Blackman (North Carolina St.), Ross Dickerson (Hawaii), Chris Garrett (Ohio), Jonathan Hefney (Tennessee), Jessie Henderson (SMU), DeSean Jackson (California), Grant Jones (Okla. St), Kevin Marion (Wake Forest), Damon Nickson (Middle Tenn. State), Ean Randolph (South Florida), Lowell Robinson (Pittsburgh), Jeff Smith (Boston College), Sammie Stroughter (Oregon St), Marcus Thigpen (Indiana), Jeremy Trimble (Army) and Josh Wilson (Maryland).
The selection of the finalists will be December 13, 2006 with the winner being announced and presented at the North South All-Star Classic being played on January 13, 2007 in Houston, Texas. The game, featuring 90 of the nation’s finest collegiate seniors, is set for 12 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
“We are extremely excited to announce these fine young men as the best in their field and as semifinalists for our award,” said Jerry Ippoliti, President Gulf Coast Events. “Their work on the field as outstanding return specialists will finally be recognized with our award and we look forward to the best in the country being announced at our game in January.”
Randy Moss, for whom the award is named, played collegiately at Marshall University, and has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times. He was the leading kick returner in I-AA in 1996, with 484 total yards and a 34.6 yard return average. Marshall went undefeated and won the 1-AA National Championship in 1996.