The College Football Performance Awards today announced that Utah senior kick returner/wide receiver Kaelin Clay was awarded their 2014 Punt Returner Trophy.
As stated by the CFPA, their purpose is to "provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective, scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams." Their data-based approach is designed to eliminate the politics and biases. (You know, those that give ESPN.com awards to SEC punters, because... well... they're in the SEC.)
Clay returned 23 punts for 346 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Clay averaged 15 yards per punt return.
After a successful 9-4 season, including a 45-10 drubbing of Colorado State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Utah players have put a lot of hardware in the trophy case. In addition to the CFPA, Clay was named first team All Pac-12 returner, and first team All America by The Sporting News, CBSSports.com, FOXSports.com, and second team All America by Scout.com.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Utah_Football">@Utah_Football</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Utah?src=hash">#Utah</a> PR Kaelin Clay earns the 2014 CFPA Punt Returner Trophy <a href="http://t.co/51RQiLscga">http://t.co/51RQiLscga</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoUtes?src=hash">#GoUtes</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Utes?src=hash">#Utes</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pac12?src=hash">#Pac12</a></p>— CFPA (@CFPerformance) <a href="https://twitter.com/CFPerformance/status/555020126446432256">January 13, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Clay's speed was utilized all over the field this season. The departing senior, who was recently invited to the 2015 NFL Draft Combine, recorded 43 receptions for 523 yards (12.2 yards per reception average) and four touchdowns. As a kickoff returner, Clay had 22 kicks returned for 548 yards (24.9 yards per return average) and one touchdown. Most fans may not remember that he also carried the ball four times (but for only six yards, with no TDs). In all, Clay accounted for eight touchdowns for the Utes this season on both offense and special teams. His versatility, athletic ability, and speed should definitely find a roster spot at the next level.