Aug. 18, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - UCF senior cornerback Joe Burnett (Eustis, Fla.) was named on Monday as one of 35 candidates for the prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, annually presented to the nation's most outstanding college football player by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
Burnett had previously been named to the watch lists for the Bednarik (best defensive player), Nagurski (best defensive player) and Thorpe (best defensive back) awards. Burnett is one of just nine defensive players recognized with a place on the Walter Camp Watch List.
Burnett enters the season with 12 career interceptions, tied for the most by any active player in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. In 2007, he recorded a career-best six interceptions as the Knights claimed the Conference USA Championship. During the season, Burnett also registered 64 tackles (55 solo) and posted a team-high 12 pass breakups with one fumble recovery.
He is a three-time first-team All-Conference USA selection as a punt returner and also earned that honor twice as a defensive back. The league's preseason Special Teams Player of the Year pick for 2008, Burnett's 926 career punt return yards lead all active players nationally while his three career punt return touchdowns tie for the top total in the country. The 926 career punt return yards are fifth in C-USA history.
"I am very happy for Joe," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "He has worked hard here at UCF and you like to see it pay off for him with national recognition like this."
The watch list will be narrowed to 15 semi-finalists in early November.
The 2008 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 119 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December. The winner will then receive his trophy at the Foundation's annual national awards banquet on January 10, 2009 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven. Last year's recipient was Arkansas running back and current Oakland Raider Darren McFadden.
Walter Camp, "The Father of American football," first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp - a former Yale University athlete and football coach - is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation- a New Haven-based all-volunteer group - was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.