For Greg Ward Jr., the beginning of the 2016 football year was much like the conclusion to the 2015 season.
Last season, Ward led his Houston Cougars to an upset of a top 10 team, and then he was awarded the third annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.
Fast forward to the present and things are very similar - Ward paced his Cougars to another upset of a top 10 squad on Saturday, and on Wednesday, the Tylerite was honored with the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week for the inaugural week of the college football season.
Cindy Smoak, vice president of SPORTyler, made the announcement.
Ward, who quarterbacked the Cougars to a 33-23 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston, was honored over a number of standout performances.
Ward threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns in what was the biggest regular season non-conference game the Cougars have played in 25 years.
The victory propelled UH to No. 6 in the latest Associated Press poll.
The John Tyler High School graduate was elated with the Cougars' win over the Sooners.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Ward said. “Wins are always good, but we have a lot of work to do after the first game. We’re getting all of the kinks and little mistakes out right now.”
In another highlight, singer Drake wore Ward’s No. 1 jersey at a concert at the Toyota Center in Houston Saturday night.
“He wasn’t wearing my jersey. He was wearing our jersey, a Houston jersey,” Ward said. “It didn’t have a name on the back, so it wasn’t mine.”
Ward and the Cougars are hoping the momentum of last year’s 38-24 victory over No. 9 Florida State continues throughout the season.
The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, announced in 2012 by the Tyler Chamber and SPORTyler, recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define 1977 Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity - specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.
In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: be born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four year D1 Texas college.
For more information about The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, go to www.earlcampbellaward.com.
Week One Honorable Mentions
J.T. Barrett, senior quarterback, Ohio State University
High School: Rider
Hometown: Wichita Falls
Passing: 21 of 31 attempts for 348 yards, 6 touchdowns, interception
Rushing: 6 carries for 30 yards, TD
Ohio State defeated Bowling Green, 77-10, on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio
Teriyon Gipson, senior running back, University of New Mexico
High School: Kimball
Rushing: 8 carries for 181 yards, 2 TDs
New Mexico defeated South Dakota, 48-21, on Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Kenny Hill, junior quarterback, Texas Christian University
High School: Carroll
Passing: 33 of 49 attempts for 439 yards, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions
Rushing: 7 carries for 45 yards, 3 TDs
TCU defeated South Dakota State, 59-41, on Saturday in Fort Worth
Jalen Hurts, freshman quarterback, University of Alabama
High School: Channelview
Passing: 6 of 11 attempts for 118 yards, 2 TDs, interception
Rushing: 9 carries for 32 yards, 2 TDs
Alabama defeated Southern California, 52-6, on Saturday in Arlington
Aaron Jones, junior running back, The University of Texas at El Paso
High School: Burges
Hometown: El Paso
Rushing: 32 carries for 249 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving: 3 receptions for 43 yards
UTEP defeated New Mexico State, 38-22, on Saturday in El Paso
Tyler Jones, senior quarterback, Texas State University-San Marcos
High School: Stephenville
Passing: 40 of 55 attempts for 418 yards, 4 TDs, 2 interceptions
Rushing: 1 carry for 22 yards, TD
Texas State defeated Ohio, 56-54, in three overtimes on Saturday in Athens, Ohio
Patrick Mahomes II, junior quarterback, Texas Tech University
High School: Whitehouse
Passing: 30 of 43 for 483 yards, 4 TDs
Rushing: 10 carries for 57 yards, 2 TDs
Texas Tech defeated Stephen F. Austin, 69-17, on Saturday in Lubbock
Devante Mays, senior running back, Utah State University
High School: Livingston
Rushing: 18 carries for 208 yards, 3 TDs
Utah State defeated Weber State, 45-6, on Saturday in Logan, Utah
Courtland Sutton, sophomore wide receiver, Southern Methodist University
High School: Brenham
Receiving: 4 catches for 162 yards, 3 TDs
SMU defeated North Texas, 34-21, on Saturday in Denton
Tyrone Swoopes, senior quarterback, The University of Texas at Austin
High School: Whitewright
Rushing: 13 carries for 53 yards, 3 TDs
Passing: 0 of 1 attempts
Texas defeated Notre Dame, 50-47, in two overtimes on Sunday in Austin