PHILADELPHIA -- Fordham running back Chase Edmonds calls the university's head athletic trainer Vinny Porricelli "Mr. Vinny." Whenever Porricelli tells Edmonds to call him Vinny, Edmonds responds, "I'm just a freshman. I haven't earned the right to call you Vinny."

As the fourth recipient of the Jerry Rice Award which honors the national freshman of the year in the FCS, it's been hard to tell Edmonds is a first-year player. He jumped to the front of the freshman class from the first week of the season.

In fact, Edmonds ran away with the Rice Award, receiving 95 of the 160 first-place votes and 625 points in balloting by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. He was presented the award, named for the legendary wide receiver who played on the FCS level at Mississippi Valley State, at The Sports Network FCS Awards Banquet Monday night.

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, product didn't even start the first game of Fordham's Patriot League championship season, but he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and finished with 300 all-purpose yards in the win. He became the starter after the opener and went on to rush for at least 100 yards nine times and finish the regular season with 1,539 yards and 21 touchdowns on 252 carries, ranking eighth nationally in both rushing yards per game (128.3) and all-purpose yards per game (165.5).

"I'm not going to lie, it was kind of surprising to me because I didn't really know what to expect," Edmonds said.

"I feel like I've been put in the perfect situation because of the experience of the line," Edmonds added. "We have (Garrick) Mayweather, a real good junior. Matt Stolte, he's a senior. Joe Mizera and then (freshman Anthony) Coyle and we have Mason Halter."

Despite having a veteran squad that was coming off a school-record 12 wins last season, Fordham had big shoes to fill in replacing two-time first-team all-league running back Carlton Koonce. Coach Joe Moorhead says from the moment the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Edmonds stepped on campus, he had a mind-set to go 100 percent at everything, from the playing field to the weight room to the classroom.

He was the only freshman to be named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which honors the outstanding player in the FCS.

"It's a blessing to be in the position that I am right now. The team is doing real well with the success. It's all about the team right now; that's the most important thing," Edmonds said.

South Dakota State wide receiver Jake Wieneke finished second in the balloting and Sam Houston State defensive end P.J. Hall was third among 25 finalists.

There were 160 ballots cast in the 2014 Jerry Rice Award voting.

Final 2014 Jerry Rice Award voting