LeFors makes Unitas Award short list

Senior quarterback Stefan LeFors of the University of Louisville was one of nine outstanding senior quarterbacks to have been selected as candidates for the 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 finalists for the award also include Jason Campbell (Auburn), Timmy Chang (Hawaii), Charlie Frye (Akron), David Greene (Georgia), Dan Orlovsky (Connecticut), Kyle Orton (Purdue), Andrew Walter (Arizona State) and Jason White (Oklahoma).

Ranked second nationally in passing efficiency, LeFors has led Louisville to a 4-1 record and a No. 15 national ranking. Orlovsky has passed for 1,659 yards and 12 touchdowns at Connecticut (4-2), ranking 17th nationally in total offense. Orton has thrown for 1,877 yards and 19 touchdowns at No. 12 Purdue (5-1) while ranking fourth nationally in total offense.

Fourth nationally in passing efficiency, Campbell has thrown for 1,363 yards for No. 3 Auburn (7-0). Third nationally in total offense, Chang has thrown for 1,658 yards at Hawaii (2-3). Frye has passed for 1,429 yards at Akron (3-4) this season. Greene has thrown for 1,109 yards at No. 10 Georgia (5-1).

Walter has passed for 1,430 yards and 15 touchdowns at No. 21 Arizona State (5-1). Eleventh nationally in passing efficiency, White has thrown for 1,228 yards and 13 touchdowns for second-ranked Oklahoma.

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. The 2004 recipient will be announced Dec. 1, with the award presentation to be made in Louisville on December 10 at the Clarion Conference Center.

The organization is currently accepting ticket orders for the award dinner (502-485-3331). Tickets are $35 each or tables of eight for $280.

The prestigious 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 14 outstanding young men.

Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning 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), and Carson Palmer (USC, 2002).

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. In addition, the foundation honors participants in six local youth leagues. The organization was formerly associated with the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

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.

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