LOUISVILLE, Ky.- Twenty-two outstanding senior quarterbacks have been selected as the top candidates for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the nation's top senior collegiate quarterback by the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.
The nation's top senior quarterback is selected for the award from a list compiled by a select committee of football experts from across the United States. Additional candidates could be added at a later date if their performance dictates inclusion. The committee will choose five finalists plus any ties and announce the list on Oct. 19.
The 2005 recipient will be announced Nov. 30, with the award presentation to be made in Louisville on December 9 at the Clarion Conference Center.
The prestigious award bears the name of who many refer to as the finest quarterback to ever play the game of football, a University of Louisville alumnus. Established in 1987, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award has previously honored 18 outstanding young men.
Oklahoma quarterback Jason White won the award last year. Other past recipients include Don McPherson (Syracuse, 1987), Rodney Peete (USC, 1988), Tony Rice (Notre Dame, 1989), Craig Erickson (Miami, Fla., 1990), Casey Weldon (Florida St., 1991), Gino Torretta (Miami, Fla., 1992), Charlie Ward (Florida St., 1993), Jay Barker (Alabama, 1994), Tommie Frazier (Nebraska, 1995), Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996), Payton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Cade McNown (UCLA, 1998), Chris Redman (Louisville, 1999), Chris Weinke (Florida State, 2000), David Carr (Fresno State, 2001), Carson Palmer (USC, 2002) and Eli Manning (Mississippi, 2003).
In addition to honoring a player with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships to deserving scholar athletes from area high schools. The foundation also honors participants in six local youth leagues.
The Transamerica Insurance and Investment Group, a leading provider of innovative business and personal financial services, is a major corporate sponsor for the award and organization as well as Southwest Airlines, the official airline for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation; and WAVE3, the official Kentucky Derby station. Insight Communications, the eighth-largest cable operator in the United States serving Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, is an active sponsor and will televise the event on a delayed basis.
The namesake of the award has a storied history which has earned him the recognition of being the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL.
An 18-year veteran of the NFL, Unitas played his collegiate career at the University of Louisville (1951-54), passing for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdowns. Unitas, who wore number 19 as a professional, had his No. 16 collegiate uniform retired at Louisville, the lone number retired by the Cardinals.
He began his 18-year pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1956 and played there until joining the San Diego Chargers for his final season. His career passing figures are mind boggling. He completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns during his 18-year NFL career. Among his many records is one that may stand forever, throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.
Unitas was recently selected as the top quarterback of all-time by the Pro Football Hall of Fame 36-member selection committee. In commemorating the NFL's 25th, 50th and 75th anniversaries, he was also honored as the greatest quarterback of all time. A Pro Bowl participant 10 times and a three-time Most Valuable Player honoree, Unitas was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979. In turn of the century listings, Unitas was featured among Sports Illustrated's top ten athletes, Time's ten most influential athletes and in ESPN's series on the 50 greatest athletes of the century.
Note: All candidates must be completing their college eligibility this season to be eligible for The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Candidates are judged upon citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and athletic accomplishments.