Four athletes on the East Carolina University football team have been named to different award Watch Lists such as junior quarterback Holton Ahlers, junior wide receiver Tyler Snead, sophomore receiver C.J. Johnson and senior place kicker Jake Verity have all been recognized for their work both on and off the field.
Ahlers has been placed on the Wuerffel Award Watch List. Known for his strong presence on the field as a dual threat quarterback that can put up big numbers on any given night, Ahlers also has a noticeable presence in his community.
The Wuerffel Award recognizes college football players who greatly serve their community which is why Ahlers’ being placed on the watch list is no surprise.
Ahlers is no stranger to volunteer work as he devotes his time to programs such as Aces for Autism, Food Bank of Eastern Carolina, James & Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, Vidant Medical Center, Pirate Armada, Pitt County Trash Pick-up, the Ronald Mcdonald House and the Special Olympics.
The Pirate quarterback will be up against three players who were nominated last season for the award, which include Stanford’s senior quarterback Isaiah Sanders, who was a finalist last season.
The amount of competition and the three returnees the committee is already familiar with will make it hard for Ahlers to win the award despite the great work he has done in his community.
The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 8. Although the chances of Ahlers winning are unlikely, a spot as a semi finalist may not be out of the question. Whether Ahlers wins or not, it is great the Pirates are represented by a player who gives so much of his time back to his community.
Snead has been added to the watch list for the Paul Hornung award along with 50 other players across the nation. The award is given annually to the most versatile player of the season.
A versatile player is one who can impact a game in more than one way, and Snead does just that. For the Pirates, Snead fills the roles of wide receiver and kick/punt returner.
In the 2019 season, Sead pulled in 66 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns. He returned 14 punts for 35 total yards, and 29 kickoff returns for 481 yards and one touchdown.
His ability to play both positions of receiver and returner so well is why Snead has been added to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award. However, Snead will be going against some of the most athletic players in the nation, which will make winning the award a real challenge.
Snead becoming a finalist for the award is not out of the question if he can add on to his return game and continue his success as a receiver. The award will be presented in March of 2021.
The Lou Groza Award is given to the top kicker in college football. This year, the award has a highly competitive watch list featuring two former finalists, a former winner and a dozen former semifinalists.
Verity is once again on the watch list for the award after being a semifinalist in 2019. For the Pirates, Verity is one of the top kickers the program has had, holding several of the team's kicking records.
Verity is regarded as one of the best kickers in college football, and this year, his chances to win the Lou Groza Award are very strong despite the stiff competition he will face.
The Pirate offense this season will likely be very strong and provide Verity many opportunities to put points on the board, such as they did last season when Verity scored an impressive 105 points. Verity will likely have a strong senior season and make it as a finalist for the highly coveted award.
Johnson had a very impressive freshman season for the Pirates, hauling in 54 receptions for 908 yards for an average of 16.8 yards per catch. Johnson put up four receiving touchdowns.
This performance and the potential for improvement makes Johnson a clear contender for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the best receiver in college football.
With the Pirates' passing game showing great things toward the end of last season, it is probable the team will show the same in 2020. This means more opportunities for Johnson in his sophomore season.
Johnson nearly had 1,000 yards off of only 54 catches, so with more passes likely coming his way next season, Johnson should easily surpass the 1,000 yard mark and have more touchdown opportunities.
If those things hold true then Johnson will be an easy finalist for the Biletnikoff Award which will be presented in March of 2021.
These four players all show great work on and off the field. Their impact on the ECU football team and the community that surrounds it is irreplaceable and the potential is there for each of them to win their respective awards.