Ole Miss’ senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is one of 15 finalists for the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented by A.O. Smith. The award is given annually to the nation’s top performing quarterback.
Through eight games, the Pearl City, Hawaii, native is at or near the top of every passing statistic in the SEC. He leads the conference in completions, attempts and total passing yards, with nearly 600 more yards than Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who ranks second. Ta’amu ranks second in passing touchdowns and completion percentage, and is third in overall quarterback rating, as well.
His 2,622 passing yards ranks third nationally, and his 16 touchdowns have him tied for 15th in the country.
“I’m super blessed to have (my teammates) around me,” Ta’amu said. “We worked during the offseason, the spring and in the summer. That’s when we really built our chemistry.”
The award is not solely based on accomplishments on the field, however. The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation also takes off-the-field accomplishments, such as integrity and leadership, into account for its winners.
“The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award considers character, citizenship, integrity, leadership and honor,” said John C. Unitas, Jr., president of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. “The same characteristics that were displayed by my father are highly valued by A. O. Smith and are every bit as important as the quarterback’s completion rate or number of touchdowns scored.”
The prestigious award has had many notable winners since its introduction in 1987, including Peyton Manning of Tennessee in 1997, Carson Palmer of USC in 2002, Eli Manning of Ole Miss in 2003, Matt Ryan of Boston College in 2007, Andrew Luck of Stanford in 2011 and Deshaun Watson of Clemson in 2016.
Ta’amu will need to maintain the pace he’s on to be in contention for the award, but with the Rebels’ four remaining opponents only combining for a 15-13 record, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Ta’amu to make the final cut.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award ceremony will be held on Dec. 7 in Baltimore.