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Travis Hunter wins Paul Hornung Award, given to most versatile college football player

Colorado star player Travis Hunter is the winner of this year's Paul Hornung Award. It's an award given by the Louisville Sports Commission that goes to "the most versatile player in major college football."

Nebraska v Colorado
Travis Hunter of the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on Sept. 9 in Boulder. Dustin Bradford / Getty Images

Throughout the Buffaloes season, Hunter executed on highlight-reel defensive plays again and again. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and five pass breakups. In addition to being a cornerback, though, he excelled on the offensive side of the ball. His season stats were impressive as a wide receiver: 57 receptions, 721 yards and five touchdowns.

The only time in recent college football history a player has had close to that number of receptions to pair with three or more interceptions was in 1998, and the player who did it will be familiar to Colorado sports fans. Champ Bailey had 47 receptions and three INTs with the Georgia Bulldogs in that season.

"The kid is a phenomenal player," said Coach Deion Sanders last month during a segment of the CBS Colorado sports show "Coach Prime's Playbook with Romi Bean."

In a prepared statement on Wednesday, Sanders called him a "generational player who has changed the game."

"We had to find ways to utilize him to the best of his ability on both sides of the ball, where he could utilize his strengths and be a force," Sanders said.

Hunter reacted to the award with thanks for his coach and teammates in a prepared statement.

"Paul Hornung accomplished great things that I also want to accomplish, and to be given the award in his name is truly amazing. I'd like to thank all my teammates for their support and Coach Prime for the opportunity to play both ways and do whatever I can to help the Colorado Buffaloes," he said.

Bailey wound up having a Hall of Fame career in the NFL -- including 10 seasons with the Denver Broncos -- and Sanders projects great things to come as well for Hunter.

"Travis hasn't reached his full potential as of yet and his best is still coming," Sanders said.

On his show, Bean asked Sanders if he thinks Hunter could play both defense and offense as a pro.

"When you look at Travis -- and everybody wonders every week -- is he going to play DB or wide receiver in the NFL?" Bean asked Sanders. "Do you think there's still a place to play both?"

"Yeah. I think any organization that drafts him would be idiotic not to give him an opportunity to play on both sides of the ball. Because he has value. We all talk about adding value -- he adds value to both sides of the ball. He don't have to play both ways the entire game, but you've got to have packages on offense and defense (that include him)," said Sanders.

Hunter finished the season playing 566 snaps on defense, 436 snaps on offense and 30 on special teams.

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