LEXINGTON — University of Kentucky senior long snapper Blake Best has been named one of the record 83 candidates for the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy, it was announced in conjunction with the Springdale (ARIZ) Rotary Club on Tuesday.

In the award’s ninth year, the Trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former University of Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman. Burlsworth’s life is also the subject of a major motion picture, “GREATER”, which was released in 2016. The Burlsworth Trophy is given to the most outstanding football player who began his career as a walk-on and has shown outstanding performance on the field. Each nominee must have begun his first season of participation with FBS (D1) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department.

Best, a native of Duluth, Georgia, has had a tremendous career as a four-year starter for the Cats. He has played in 47 career games, the most of any player on the roster, and has been perfect on every snap in his career (52 field goals, 132 extra points).

Best began his career as a walk-on before earning a scholarship in 2018. He graduated summa cum laude in December 2018 with a double major in economics and finance with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He currently is working on a master’s degree in finance. He was named Second-Team 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-American, is a three-time SEC Honor Roll member and five-time Dean’s List honoree.

Best has been critical to the Cats’ success on the field as they’ve made three consecutive bowl games. In 2016 as a redshirt freshman he twice delivered perfect snaps for game-winning field goals by Austin MacGinnis in the final seconds, including a 47-yarder to upset No. 11 Louisville on the road.

The 2018 winner was Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. Former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won both the 2015 and 2016 awards.

“This award is about the journey, the incredibly challenging journey that all of these nominees have taken,” said Marty Burlsworth, CEO and founder of the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and older brother of Brandon. “When you begin your college career as a Walk-On there are plenty of skeptics, those that think you can’t do it. This group of Burlsworth Trophy nominees have proven all the skeptics wrong. They have put in an immense about of work and overcame numerous obstacles to make their dreams come true.”

Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon Burlsworth walked on at the University of Arkansas in 1994. He became a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in conjunction with Springdale Rotary Club, will host an awards ceremony on December 3, 2018 in Springdale, Arizona to honor the three finalists and to announce the 2018 winner.

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