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Anthony Chiusano | | January 5, 2019

Samford QB Devlin Hodges wins 2018 FCS Walter Payton Award

NDSU Wins FCS Title

Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges was named Walter Payton Award winner Friday night at the 2018 STATS FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas.

The Payton Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS. Hodges finished above fellow finalists Easton Stick of North Dakota State and Chandler Burks of Kennesaw State.

Hodges led the nation with 4,283 passing yards and was tied for third with 32 passing touchdowns. Earlier this season, the senior surpassed Steve McNair for most career passing yards in FCS history (14,584).

Hodges is the first Samford player to be honored in the award's 32-year history. 

FCS CHAMPIONSHIP 2018: North Dakota State wins seventh title in eight years | Final bracket

SEMO's Zach Hall wins Buck Buchanan Award

Southeast Missouri State linebacker Zach Hall was honored with the 24th annual Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player across the FCS.

The junior finished the 2018 season with a nation-high 168 tackles and second-most tackles per game (12.9). The do-it-all linebacker also added two sacks, four forced fumbles and four interceptions to his season ledger. Hall had a season-high 22 tackles in Week 1 against Arkansas State and topped 10 tackles in 10 of 13 games. 

Hall is the first SEMO player to win the Buchanan Award. The other two 2018 finalists were Montana's Dante Olson and Sam Houston State's Derick Roberson.

Dawkins, Davis, Infantino win remaining hardware

Three other previously-announced awards were handed out Friday night for national coach of the year, top freshman and scholar-athlete.

UC Davis coach Dan Hawkins earned the Eddie Robinson Award for coach of the year after guiding the Aggies to a 10-3 record with a share of the Big Sky championship. UC Davis advanced to the 2018 FCS quarterfinals before bowing out to national finalist Eastern Washington.

Hawkins is now 15-9 in two years at the helm of the Aggies. UC Davis improved its record by five games from his debut season.

Weber State running back Josh Davis took home the Jerry Rice Award as the nation's most outstanding freshman. Davis finished the year with 1,362 rushing yards (seventh most in the nation) and nine touchdowns. Weber State earned a No. 2 national seed in this year's postseason and advanced to the quarterfinals.

MORE: FCS Championship to stay in Frisco through 2025, option for '26

Stony Brook senior offensive lineman Chris Infantino won the final award as the Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the year. The award honors an FCS student-athlete who excels on the field, in the classroom and in the community. 

Infantino earned his undergraduate degree this year with a 3.31 GPA while majoring in biology and psychology. 
At age 11, he was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and inflammation on his brain caused him to slip into a coma for 10 days. That unfortunate experience served as inspiration for his passion for science and medicine. He's now pursuing a career in treating disorders of the brain and spinal cord.

According to STATS FCS, a panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries vote on the Payton, Buchanan, Eddie Robinson and Rice awards. The Doris Robinson Award is determined by nominations made by the 13 FCS conferences.

Here is a list of every player to win the Walter Payton Award in the award's 32-year history:

year winner, school position
2018 Devlin Hodges, Samford Quarterback
2017 Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State Quarterback
2016 Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State Quarterback
2015 Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington Wide receiver
2014 John Robertson, Villanova Quarterback
2013 Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois Quarterback
2012 Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion Quarterback
2011 Bo Levi Mitchell, Eastern Washington Quarterback
2010 Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin Quarterback
2009 Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State Quarterback
2008 Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State Quarterback
2007 Jayson Foster, Georgia Southern Quarterback
2006 Ricky Santos, New Hampshire Quarterback
2005 Erik Meyer, Eastern Washington Quarterback
2004 Lang Campbell, William & Mary Quarterback
2003 Jamaal Branch, Colgate Running back
2002 Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois Quarterback
2001 Brian Westbrook, Villanova Running back
2000 Louis Ivory, Furman Running back
1999 Adrian Peterson, Georgia Southern Running back
1998 Jerry Azumah, New Hampshire Running back
1997 Brian Finneran, Villanova Wide receiver
1996 Archie Amerson, Northern Arizona Running back
1995 Dave Dickenson, Montana Quarterback
1994 Steve McNair, Alcorn State Quarterback
1993 Doug Nussmeier, Idaho Quarterback
1992 Michael Payton, Marshall Quarterback
1991 Jamie Martin, Weber State Quarterback
1990 Walter Dean, Grambling State Running back
1989 John Friesz, Idaho Quarterback
1988 Dave Meggett, Towson Running back
1987 Kenny Gamble, Colgate Running back

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