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Anthony Chiusano | | July 31, 2019

Walter Payton Award: Complete history of the FCS offensive honor

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The Walter Payton Award is given each year to the most outstanding offensive player in FCS football. The 2019-20 winner, to be announced in January during FCS championship week, will be the 33rd recipient in award history.

Here's everything you need to know about the annual honor, presented by STATS FCS.

FCS Walter Payton Award: What is it and who is it named after?

The Walter Payton Award debuted in 1987 to honor the most outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision. In 1995, with the introduction of the Buck Buchanan Award for top defensive player, the Payton Award was altered to only recognize the top offensive player.

A national panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries vote on the award's winner, based on players' regular-season performances. Voting is conducted before the start of FCS playoffs.

The Walter Payton Award is one of five national awards announced by STATS FCS:

  • Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year)
  • Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year)
  • Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year)
  • Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year)
  • Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year

The offensive player of the year award's namesake, Walter Payton, was an NFL legend with the Chicago Bears, earning nine Pro Bowl trips, 1977 MVP honors and a 1986 Super Bowl ring. The all-time great running back began his journey at FCS program Jackson State from 1971-74.

Payton, a two-time FCS All-American, rushed for 3,600 total yards and scored 63 touchdowns in four years at Jackson State. He is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

Samford Athletics Walter Payton Award Samford QB Devlin Hodges won the 2018 Walter Payton Award.

FCS Walter Payton Award: When is the winner announced?

The Walter Payton Award winner is revealed annually at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on the eve of the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas. The 2019-20 recipient will be announced Jan. 10, 2020. 

All five STATS FCS national honors are celebrated at the banquet, though the Jerry Rice, Eddie Robinson and Doris Robinson winners are all announced ahead of time. The Payton and Buchanan award winners are revealed for the first time as part of the ceremony.

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The first 25-man Walter Payton Award watch list was released in the preseason on July 31 by STATS FCS. The list will have updates periodically throughout the regular season, culminating in the invitation of three finalists to attend the banquet.

2019-20 KEY DATES:

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2019 — Preseason watch list announced
  • TBD — In-season updates to watch list announced
  • Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 — Winner announced at STATS FCS Awards Banquet

FCS Walter Payton Award: Complete history of past recipients

Former Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges became the 32nd recipient of the Walter Payton Award last year, beating out fellow finalists Easton Stick (North Dakota State) and Chandler Burks (Kennesaw State). Hodges was the 14th quarterback to win the award in the past 15 years.

Quarterbacks have accounted for a position-best 21 winners since the award debuted in 1987. Nine running backs and two wide receivers have also been honored. Eastern Washington and Villanova lead all schools with three winners apiece.

Appalachian State Athletics armanti edwards Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards was the award's first repeat winner in 2008-09.

Only two players have lifted the hardware in consecutive years: Appalachian State standout quarterback Armanti Edwards won in 2008 and '09, and Sam Houston State QB Jeremiah Briscoe took it home in 2016 and '17.

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Other notable past honorees include eventual NFL stars Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington, 2015), Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois, 2013), Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois, 2002) and Steve McNair (Alcorn State, 1994). See the full list below.

FCS Walter Payton Award winners (1987-2018):

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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