The Walter Camp Player of the Year is presented annually to the nation's top college football player by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The nation's leading rusher and all-purpose runner, Johnson beat out four other finalists for the award in Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey and running back Willis McGahee and USC quarterback Carson Palmer. The fourth-oldest individual college football award in the nation, the Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient was presented during ESPN's 6:00 p.m. SportsCenter on Dec. 12.
The Walter Camp All-America Team and Player of the Year will be honored at the Foundation's annual national awards banquet on February 8, 2003 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven, Conn.
Johnson, the 36th winner of the honor, is the second Nittany Lion to be named Walter Camp Player of the Year. John Cappelletti won the honor in 1973 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.
The 66th winner of the Maxwell Award, Johnson was picked over two other finalists; quarterback s Brad Banks (Iowa) and Ken Dorsey (Miami). The nation's leading rusher, Johnson is the seventh Penn State player to win the Maxwell honor, four of whom played for Coach Joe Paterno: quarterback Rich Lucas (1959); lineman Glenn Ressler (1964); defensive tackle Mike Reid (1969); halfback John Cappelletti (1973); quarterback Chuck Fusina (1978) and quarterback Kerry Collins (1994).
Johnson won the Walker Award, which has been presented annually since 1990, over two other finalists; Chris Brown (Colorado) and Willis McGahee (Miami, Fla.). Johnson is the first of three Penn State finalists to claim the award. Former Nittany Lions Ki-Jana Carter (1994) and Curtis Enis (1997) have been among the three finalists for the honor in previous years.
The awards were announced live on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, on ESPN, December 12. Johnson will receive his Maxwell Award at the 66th Annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Dinner, held February 23, 2003, in Philadelphia. He will receive his Walker Award at the Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet on Tuesday, January 28, 2003, at The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas.
Johnson is just the ninth player in NCAA Division I-A history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, with 2,015 yards on 251 carries. He leads the nation in rushing (167.9 ypg) and all-purpose yardage (214.5 ypg) and is second in scoring (11.67 ppg). His 8.0 yards per carry average is best in the nation among the nation's top 100 rushers and the best of any of the other eight runners who have cracked 2,000 yards in a season.
A Heisman Trophy finalist, Johnson broke the school record for rushing yardage in a game three times in the last six weeks of the season, with 327 yards at Indiana (Nov. 16), 279 yards vs. Illinois (Nov. 2) and 257 yards vs. Northwestern (Oct. 19).
Johnson owns four of the nation's top 12 rushing efforts this season! No one else has more than one among the top 12 efforts. In the last six games, he rushed for 1,396 yards on 148 carries, an average of 9.4 yards per carry and 232.7 ypg. He is the first Nittany Lion to post four 200-yard rushing games in a career, let alone a season. John Cappelletti had three straight 200-yard games in November, 1973 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.
He is the first player in 107 years of Big Ten football to rush for 2,000 yards in the regular season. He averaged all-time Big Ten best 8.8 yards per carry and 183.1 yards per game, gaining 1,465 yards on 166 carries in eight Big Ten contests. He led all Big Ten rushers by an average of more than 45 yards per game in Conference games. Anthony Davis, Wisconsin was second at 136.7 ypg.