IRVING, Texas – Two Conference USA quarterbacks are among the 21 preseason candidates for the 2009 Johnny Unitas Award, given annually to the nation's most outstanding senior quarterback. East Carolina’s Patrick Pinkney and UAB’s Joe Webb are C-USA’s representatives on the preseason watch list.
Pinkney, who has played a key role in the Pirates' combined 17 victories and pair of bowl appearances in back-to-back seasons, led East Carolina to a Conference USA championship in 2008 - the program's first league title since 1976. He opened 13 of 14 games last fall and completed 223-of-363 passes for 2,675 yards and 13 touchdowns, which included a season-high 296-yard effort against Kentucky in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Pinkney also established a new school single-game completion percentage standard with a 19-of-23 (82.6) performance against No. 17 Virginia Tech Aug. 30 to guide ECU to a 27-22 win before turning in a 22-of-28 effort a week later against No. 8 West Virginia during the Pirates' 24-3 triumph. His 406-yard performance in a 34-31 victory against North Carolina in 2007 stands as the second-highest single-game passing total in program history - falling just eight yards shy of David Garrard's school-record 414-yard effort against Memphis in 1998.
Webb established himself as one of the nation’s top duel threats last season, throwing for 2,367 yards and rushing for a Conference USA record 1,021 yards. He is one of only two returning quarterbacks in the nation who passed for more than 2,000 yards and ran for more than 1,000 in 2008. His rushing total shattered the league record for rushing yards in a season by a quarterback by more than 300 yards.
Webb accounted for 21 touchdowns in 2008, 11 on the ground and 10 through the air. A career 59 percent passer, Webb will lead a UAB team this fall that opens its season Sept. 5 at home against C-USA foe Rice at Legion Field.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award bears the name of who many refer to as the finest quarterback to ever play the game of football. Established in 1987, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award has previously honored 22 outstanding young men.
The 2008 winner was Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. Two seasons ago, Matt Ryan of Boston College was the recipient of the prestigious honor.
The award takes into consideration these candidates impressive collegiate careers to this point, as well as their off-the-field values of good character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, and strong leadership qualities.
2009 JOHNNY UNITAS GOLDEN ARM AWARD CANDIDATES
Jarrett Brown, West Virginia
Daryll Clark, Penn State
Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State
Max Hall, BYU
Tim Hiller, Western Michigan
Mike Kafka, Northwestern
Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
Thaddeus Lewis, Duke
Corey Leonard, Arkansas State
Colt McCoy, Texas
Tony Pike, Cincinnati
Patrick Pinkney, East Carolina
Todd Reesing, Kansas
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
Tyler Sheehan, Bowling Green
Riley Skinner, Wake Forest
Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic
Tim Tebow, Florida
Chris Turner, Maryland
Joe Webb, UAB
Juice Williams, Illinois