TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WNCT) – East Carolina senior wide receiver Zay Jones has been named one of three finalists for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award the Tallahassee Quarterback Club (TQC) Foundation, Inc. announced Monday afternoon. The Biletnikoff Award annually recognizes the outstanding receiver in college football, not merely the outstanding wide receiver.
The 2016 Biletnikoff Award winner will be selected on Dec. 8 during a live broadcast of The Home Depot College Football Awards Show (7-9 p.m. on ESPN) from Atlanta. College Football Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard will present the 2016 Biletnikoff Award winner on the show. Howard is one of only five ends or receivers who has won the Heisman Trophy, joining Larry Kelley, Leon Hart, Johnny Rodgers, and Tim Brown.
Jones has also been named a semifinalist for the 2016 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and has officially committed to play in the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is scheduled to be played on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
This season, Jones currently leads the NCAA FBS in four categories: receptions (151), receiving yards (1,685), receptions per game (13.7) and receiving yards per game (153.2). He stands second on the NCAA FBS single-season receptions chart, but only needs five catches against Temple in the season finale Saturday to pass current record-holder Freddie Barnes (155/Bowling Green/2009). Against Navy last week, he became the NCAA FBS career receptions leader with 392 after his 19-yard grab in the second quarter eclipsed former teammate Justin Hardy’s mark of 387 set from 2011-14.
In 11 games, he has caught a personal-best eight touchdown passes and registered nine double-triples (catches-yards), which includes a career-high 22 receptions for 190 yards at South Carolina on Sept. 17. His 22 grabs against the Gamecocks are the most by an NCAA FBS receiver in a game this season and was one shy of an all-time NCAA FBS record.
On Nov. 7, Jones was formally recognized as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the Heisman Trophy Trust, while being selected as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and Senior CLASS Award on Nov. 3.
A two-year team captain, Jones currently owns ECU and American Athletic Conference single-season marks for receptions and receiving yards, while standing second on the Pirates’ career receiving yardage (4,218) and touchdown (23) charts. He has hauled down at least one pass in 48 of 49 career games, and with his 7-yard catch in the first quarter against Navy, he extended his streak with at least one reception to 46-straight contests.
The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, initiated in 2012, recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define former running back Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.
In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas high school and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year college.
The 68th Annual Senior Bowl game is the nation’s most unique football game and premier senior showcase event. It annually features the country’s best collegiate players and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South.
Jones is the 19th Pirate in school history committed to play in the Senior Bowl and will follow ECU record-setting performers Shane Carden (2015), Justin Hardy (2015) and Bryce Williams (2016).