FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 20, 2021) — The Davey O’Brien Foundation has announced the eight quarterbacks named to the Davey O’Brien Great 8 list for their play during week three of the college football season.
The Great 8 list includes: Holton Ahlers of East Carolina, Penn State’s Sean Clifford, Matt Corral of Ole Miss, Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Sam Howell of North Carolina, SMU’s Tanner Mordecai, Payton Thorne of Michigan State and Liberty’s Malik Willis. Three of the quarterbacks, Corral, Howell and Mordecai, received the honor for the second time in 2021.
Any player named to a Great 8 list during the season who was not previously named to the Davey O’Brien Award’s Preseason Watch List is officially added to the Midseason Watch List and becomes eligible for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. Following this week’s additions of Ahlers, Clifford, Haener and Thorne, 46 players now comprise the current list.
The Davey O’Brien Foundation was created in 1977, and the National Quarterback Award, the oldest and most prestigious college quarterback award, was first issued in 1981. Over its time, the Davey O’Brien Foundation has given away more than $1.2 million in scholarships and university grants to help high school and college athletes transform leadership on the field into leadership in life.
In 1938, O’Brien, who wore No. 8 as a star quarterback for TCU, became the first player ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award in the same year. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955. For more information, visit www.DaveyOBrien.org.
Holton Ahlers, East Carolina, Jr., 6-3, 230, Greenville, N.C.
- Accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, one rushing and one receiving), while completing 30 of 48 passes for 368 yards in a 42-38 win over Marshall.
Sean Clifford, Penn State, Sr., 6-2, 219, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Led Penn State to a 28-20 victory over No. 22 Auburn by connecting on a career-high 28 passes for 280 yards and two scores with just four incompletions (.875 completion percentage).
Matt Corral, Ole Miss, Jr., 6-2, 205, Ventura, Calif.
- Tied a school record with seven touchdowns (four rushing, three passing) and totaled 403 yards of offense (335 passing, 68 rushing) in just three quarters in a 61-21 victory over Tulane.
Jake Haener, Fresno State, Sr., 6-1, 195, Danville, Calif.
- Threw for 455 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner with 14 seconds left, while finishing 39-for-53 overall in a 40-37 upset of No. 13 UCLA.
Sam Howell, North Carolina, Jr., 6-1, 220, Indian Trail, N.C.
- Amassed 419 yards of total offense, going 14 of 21 for 307 yards and five touchdowns and collecting 112 rushing yards on 15 carries as the Tar Heels defeated Virginia, 59-39.
Tanner Mordecai, SMU, Jr., 6-3, 218, Waco, Texas
- Capped a 36-for-48, 395-yard passing effort with his fifth touchdown toss, a 33-yard Hail Mary in a 39-37 last-second win, and also added 51 rushing yards against LA Tech.
Payton Thorne, Michigan State, So., 6-0, 210, Naperville, Ill.
- Led the Spartans to a 38-17 victory at No. 24 Miami by completing 18 of 31 pass attempts for 261 yards and a career-high four touchdowns against no interceptions.
Malik Willis, Liberty, Jr., 6-1, 225, Atlanta, Ga.
- Totaled six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) while going 21-for-28 for 242 yards, and rushed nine times for 77 yards in a 45-17 win over Old Dominion.