Kentucky sophomore offensive guard Kenneth Horsey has been named one of the three 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award winners, The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced today in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization.
Horsey joins Colorado sophomore running back Jarek Broussard and Coastal Carolina senior Silas Kelly as recipients for the prestigious award.
Horsey, who hails from Sanford, Florida, has a remarkable comeback story. In the spring of 2018, before he was to arrive at Kentucky for his freshman season, he was complaining of a pain in his side. His parents rushed him to the emergency room where doctors ultimately found a growth on one of his heart valves. He went through open-heart surgery on April 8, 2018 and was even told by a few doctors that football was over. However, Horsey would not be deterred. He came to Kentucky and redshirted the 2018 season with a goal of earning a starting spot on Kentucky’s offensive line, affectionately known as the “Big Blue Wall.” In 2019, he saw action in four games and continued to train and prepare his body for the rigors of the Southeastern Conference. Since his surgery in 2018, he has lost 50 pounds and because of his hard work and dedication, has earned the starting left guard spot on the “Big Blue Wall.” Even a broken left hand, which required surgery during pre-season camp, did not get in the way. He started in eight games played this season, helping the Wildcats rank fifth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing offense (187.4).
“I want to thank God because none of this would be possible without Him,” said Horsey upon learning of being selected the 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year. “I also want to thank my family and UK football for supporting me and believing in me. I understand that every snap is a blessing and being in this situation has made me a better person, a better Christian, and a better man. I hope I can take the lessons I’ve learned through this process and use them in the future to help others.”
“We were all so concerned when we first learned what Kenneth was going through,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “There was probably some hesitation about returning to play football but to see him come back has really been inspiring. We have seen him get more and more confident and he’s really grown on and off the field. We are so proud and happy for Kenneth.”
More on the other award winners:
Jarek Broussard: After redshirting in 2018, Broussard, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore from Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, suffered a season-ending ACL injury before the start of the 2019 season on the same knee he had ACL surgery on in high school which forced him to miss the entire season. So, after missing his true and redshirt freshman seasons, he started fall camp this year tied for second on the Buffalo’s depth chart. He quickly claimed the starting job, becoming just the fourth player in Division I-A/FBS since 1996 to open a career with four 100-yard games including 187 yards and three touchdowns versus UCLA and 301 yards vs Arizona. For the season, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year lead the conference with 162.6 yards rushing per game (129 carries – 813 yards – 6.3 avg), added seven receptions for 52 yards to lead conference in all-purpose yards, He completed his remarkable season rushing for 82 yards and two touchdowns versus Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
Silas Kelly: The 6-4, 230-pound senior linebacker from South Carroll Senior High School in Mount Airy, Maryland broke his hand in the first game of the 2019 season and then tore his ACL in the season’s second game against Kansas during the Chanticleers first-ever win over a Power 5 school. Following knee surgery, he worked hard to return to spring practice but was forced to have a second operation on his knee in early spring. He was back in the middle for Coastal Carolina to open the 2020 season against Kansas. The following week versus Campbell he recorded 8 tackles, and two sacks to earn Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week accolades. For the season he led Coastal Carolina with 80 tackles and added 6.5 TFL, 5 sacks and an interception.
Since 2018, a panel of writers, editors and sports information directors from CoSIDA, AP and Touchdown Illustrated have recognized college football student-athletes each season from all divisions of college football for overcoming injury or illness, by sharing their remarkable comeback stories. Previous winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award have been: 2018 – Antwan Dixon (Kent State University), Seth Simmer (Dartmouth College); Antonio Wimbush (Carson-Newman University); 2019 – Jake Luton (Oregon State University); Drew Wilson (Georgia Southern University) and Octavion Wilson (Salisbury University). For a complete list of past honorees, visit www.Comeback-Player.com.