The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is presented annually to the nation's top senior collegiate quarterback, by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc. This 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 20 outstanding young men.
The award takes into consideration the candidates collegiate career to this point, as well as the off-the-field values of good character, citizenship, scholastic achievement and strong leadership qualities.
White, who was a semifinalist for the award last year, is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates this year as he enters his final season at WVU. Already named to the prestigious Playboy All-American team, he is one of four quarterbacks in NCAA history to win three-straight New Year's Bowl games. He is the two-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, two-time bowl MVP and has been a unanimous selection as the preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year.
A two-time team MVP, White has led the Mountaineers to a 26-4 record as the starting quarterback, two BIG EAST Championships, three-straight New Year's day wins and three-straight Top 10 national finishes.
Last season, he led the team with 1,335 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns and threw for 1,724 yards and 14 touchdowns, while completing 66.7 percent of his passes.
Other senior college quarterbacks in the top 26 are: C.J. Bacher of Northwestern, Todd Boeckman of Ohio State, Rhett Bomar of Sam Houston State, Tom Brandstater of Fresno State, Hunter Cantwell of Louisville, Rudy Carpenter of Arizona State, Chase Clement of Rice, Chase Daniel of Missouri, Joe Ganz of Nebraska, Sean Glennon of Virginia Tech, Cullen Harper of Clemson, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, Chase Holbrook of New Mexico State, Brian Hoyer of Michigan State, Will Hudgens of Memphis, Brian Johnson of Utah, Nate Longshore of California, Tyler Lorenzen of Connecticut, Stephen McGee of Texas A&M, Ben Olson of UCLA, Curtis Painter of Purdue, John Parker Wilson of Alabama, Mike Teel of Rutgers, Willie Tuitama of Arizona and Drew Willy of University of Buffalo. These quarterbacks were selected by a committee of well-recognized football experts from across the United States.
The 2008 winner will be presented with the award on Dec. 5, at the Tremont Grand Meeting & Banquet Facility, in downtown Baltimore, Md.
Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan 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 State, 1991), Gino Torretta (Miami, Fla., 1992), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Jay Barker (Alabama, 1994), Tommie Frazier (Nebraska, 1995), Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996), Peyton 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), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003), Jason White (University of Oklahoma, 2004), Matt Leinart (USC, 2005) and Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006).
The Transamerica Insurance and Investment Group, a leading provider of innovative business and personal financial services, is the major corporate and presenting sponsor for the award and organization.
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 Louisville (1951-1954), passing for 3007 yards and 27 touchdowns. Unitas, who wore No.19 as a professional, had his No. 16 collegiate uniform retired at Louisville, the lone number retired by the Cardinals. Johnny Unitas began his pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1958 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. 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 also was honored as the greatest quarterback of all time. A Pro Bowl participant 10 times and a three-time Most Valuable Player honoree, Johnny Unitas was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979. In turn of the century listings, Johnny was featured among Sports Illustrated's Top-10 athletes, Time's 10 most influential athletes and in ESPN's series on the 50 Greatest Athletes of the Century.
As part of a partnership with CN8, The Comcast Network, the announcement of the winner and the award presentation will be carried live exclusively on "Out of Bounds" at 7 p.m. Throughout the fall, "Out of Bounds" has provided a regular look at the award contenders, including game highlights and statistical updates on the "Golden Arm Award Watch List" presented by Transamerica. The special "Out of Bounds" coverage culminates with the live award winner announcement as well as interviews and reports from the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards.
Other sponsors include Black & Decker, Century Engineering, CitiGroup, Constellation New Energy, Dunbar Armored, First Mariner Bank, Maple Leaf Title LLC, Mortgage Seekers, MyAdBox, R2i.ntegrated, Southwest Airlines, Stanton Communications, and MedStar Union Memorial Sports Medicine.