RICK UPCHURCH

2016 LEGACY Award Winner! UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

UPCHURCH career highlights

 

Ricky "Rick" Upchurch (born May 20, 1952) is a former professional American football player who played wide receiver for the Denver Broncos (1975–1983) of the National Football League (NFL). Before his NFL career, he played for Centerville Community College in Centerville, Iowa and the University of Minnesota and went to high school at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio. In 2000, Upchurch was named one of the 300 best NFL players of all time.

 

In his nine NFL seasons, Upchurch excelled as a receiver and a kick returner on special teams. In his rookie season, he rushed for 97 yards, caught 18 passes for 436 yards, returned 27 punts for 312 yards, and added another 1,014 yards returning kickoffs. In his second season, he set an NFL record by returning four punts for touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. In the 1977 season, he led the NFL with 653 punt return yards and assisted his team to their first ever Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos lost Super Bowl XII to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10, but he had a good performance in the game. Upchurch amassed 125 total offensive yards (94 kickoff return, 22 punt return, 9 receiving), including a Super Bowl record 67-yard kickoff return in the 3rd quarter that set up Denver's only touchdown of the game.

 

Upchurch stayed with the Broncos until the 1983 season. He led the NFL in punt return average

Damon Benning, (Lead Voting Panelist) was a four year letterman who helped lead the Huskers to back-to-back national titles. He finished his career carrying the pigskin 270 times for a total of 1,562 yards. Benning also caught the ball 12 times for a total of 134 yards and returned 32 kickoffs for 770 yards. He finished his Husker career with 2,625 all-purpose yards. Due to his outstanding career, Benning was signed as a free-agent by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. Currently Benning focuses his attention on The Sharp & Benning in the Morning on 1620 The Zone.

THE JET AWARD VOTING SELECTION PROCESS

 

To be considered for the Jet Award, players must be a Division 1 college football team member and meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a primary return specialist (Kick or Punt returner) for their team.
  • Be among the national leaders in return categories
  • Show leadership, courage, desire, respect for authority and discipline.

The first round of voting should be conducted in late September and early October. From that first round of votes, the list of 12 semifinalists will be created and released at the end of October. The second round of voting will take place in mid-October to form the list of four finalists.  A final vote in early December to determine the winner and the decision is announced at the Award Presentation.

Media Voting Panel

Blair Kerkoff KC Star (Midwest)        George Schroeder USA Today

(Pacific NW)

Cedric Golden Austin American Statesman

(Texas)

Bill Doleman Comcast/NBCU (Southwest)

Lisa Horne Fox Sports  (Pac-12)

Charles Davis Fox, Sports/NFL Network

(National)

Heather Dinich ESPN.com (East Coast/ACC)

Tom Shatel Omaha World Herald (Local)

Adam Rittenberg ESPN.com

(Midwest/National)

Bruce Feldman CBS Sports.com

(Pac-12/National)

Dennis Dodd CBS Sports.com  (Midwest)

Coley Harvey Orlando Sentinel  (Florida)

Gerry Dinardo BTN Former Head Coach

(Midwest/National)

Damon Benning Former College FB Player

Johnny Rodgers wil also recieve a vote along with the previous winners

twice (1978 and 1982), and was selected to the Pro Bowl three more times (1978, 1979, 1982). He finished his nine-season career with 49 carries for 349 rushing yards, 267 receptions for 4,369 yards, 248 punt returns for 3,008 yards, and 95 kickoff returns for 2,355 yards. Overall, Upchurch gained 10,081 total yards and scored 35 touchdowns: eight returning punts, 24 receiving, and three rushing. He was also selected All-Pro five times. At the time of his retirement, he was the NFL's career leader in punt return yards, and his eight punt returns for touchdowns tied the NFL record shared by Jack Christiansen. He is one of five players to record a career average of over 12 yards per punt return.

 

After his retirement from the NFL, Upchurch coached football at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas during the early to mid-1990s. In 2005, Upchurch became the head football coach at East High School in Pueblo, Colorado in 2005, where the team posted a 1-19 record in his two seasons as head coach. Upchurch currently resides in Mesquite, Nevada, and frequently visits nearby communities such as St. George, Utah, and Logandale, Nevada, to sign autographs for Broncos fans. Upchurch is ranked the sixth-greatest return specialist in NFL history on NFL Network's NFL Top 10 Return Aces.

 

As of 2017's NFL off-season, Rick Upchurch held at least 11 Broncos franchise records, including:

  • Punt Returns: career (248), season (51 in 1977), game (8 on 1978-10-22 @BAL; with Trindon Holliday)
  • Punt Return Yds: career (3,008), season (653 in 1977)
  • Punt Return TDs: career (8), season (4 in 1976), game (2 on 1976-09-26 CLE; with Darrien Gordon)
  • Total Return Yds: career (5,363), playoffs (351), playoff season (222 in 1977)

Year             Name                                          Team                              Position

2016 LEGACY AWARD WINNER

2016        Rick Upchurch                     Minnesota                RB

2015        Joe Washington                     OU                               RB

2014        Paul Allen                               Stanford                     RB

2013        Pat Fischer                             UNL                             RB

2012        Billy Cannon                           LSU                             RB

Media Voting Panel

Blair Kerkoff KC Star (Midwest)        George Schroeder USA Today (Pacific NW)

Cedric Golden Austin American Statesman (Texas)

Bill Doleman Comcast/NBCU (Southwest)

Lisa Horne Fox Sports  (Pac-12)

Charles Davis Fox, Sports/NFL Network (National)

Heather Dinich ESPN.com (East Coast/ACC)

Tom Shatel Omaha World Herald (Local)

Adam Rittenberg ESPN.com (Midwest/National)

Bruce Feldman CBS Sports.com (Pac-12/National)

Dennis Dodd CBS Sports.com (Midwest)

Coley Harvey Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

Gerry Dinardo BTN Former Head Coach

(Midwest/National)

Damon Benning Former College FB Player

Johnny Rodgers wil also recieve a vote along with the previous winners

THE JET AWARD VOTING SELECTION PROCESS

 

To be considered for the Jet Award, players must be a Division 1 college football team member and meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a primary return specialist (Kick or Punt returner) for their team.
  • Be among the national leaders in return categories
  • Show leadership, courage, desire, respect for authority and discipline.

The first round of voting should be conducted in late September and early October. From that first round of votes, the list of 12 semifinalists will be created and released at the end of October. The second round of voting will take place in mid-October to form the list of four finalists.  A final vote in early December to determine the winner and the decision is announced at the Award Presentation.

Damon Benning, (Lead Voting Panelist) was a four year letterman who helped lead the Huskers to back-to-back national titles. He finished his career carrying the pigskin 270 times for a total of 1,562 yards. Benning also caught the ball 12 times for a total of 134 yards and returned 32 kickoffs for 770 yards. He finished his Husker career with 2,625 all-purpose yards. Due to his outstanding career, Benning was signed as a free-agent by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. Currently Benning focuses his attention on The Sharp & Benning in the Morning on 1620 The Zone.

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