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Stats Perform | April 20, 2021

FCS finalists announced for 2020-21 Walter Payton Award, other top honors

Watch the 2020-21 FCS football championship selection show

CHICAGO — Being considered one of the best of the best sure sounds good.
 
Finalists were announced and voting began on Monday, April 19 for the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS legacy awards, which honor the national players and coach of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
 
The Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) are being presented for the 34th time, the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year) for the 26th time and the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) for the 10th time. 

WALTER PAYTON AWARD: Complete history of the FCS' top offensive honor
 
The four award recipients plus the Stats Perform FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be announced next month — the Rice on May 3, the Eddie Robinson on May 4, the Doris Robinson on May 5 and both the Payton and Buchanan on May 15.
 
A 40-member national media panel will select the winners from the unprecedented 2020-21 season, which has spanned the fall and spring semesters.

2020-21 STATS PERFORM FCS AWARDS

WALTER PAYTON AWARD – 16 Finalists

Eastern Washington Athletics Eric Barriere EWU quarterback Eric Barriere is third in the FCS in passing TDs and fourth in passing yards.
  • Percy Agyei-Obese, James Madison, RB, Sr. (CAA)
    • Statistics: 69 carries, 381 yards, 5.5 ypc, 5 TDs; 4 receptions (4 games)
    • Notable: TD in all 4 games; 132 rush yards, TD vs. Elon
  • Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington, QB, Sr. (Big Sky)
    • Statistics: 166 of 268 (61.9 percent), 2,193 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs; 135 rush yards (6 games)
    • Notable: 300+ pass yards in 5 of 6 games, multiple TD passes in all 6 games
  • Julius Chestnut, Sacred Heart, RB, Jr. (Northeast)
    • Statistics: 93 carries, 717 yards, 7.7 ypc, 8 TDs; 8 receptions, 171 yards, 3 TDs (4 games)
    • Notable: 173+ rushing yards, TD in all 4 games
  • Tim DeMorat, Fordham, QB, Jr. (Patriot)
    • Statistics: 93 of 129 (72.1 percent), 1,049 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs; 2 rush TDs (3 games)
    • Notable: 39 of 56, 440 yards, 2 TDs vs. Holy Cross
  • Juwon Farri, Monmouth, RB, Jr. (Big South)
    • Statistics: 79 carries, 422 yards, 5.3 ypc, 9 TD (3 games) 
    • Notable: 119+ rushing yards, multiple TDs in all 3 games
  • Aqeel Glass, Alabama A&M, QB, Sr. (SWAC)
    • Statistics: 67 of 113 (59.3 percent), 1,084 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 1 rush TD (3 games)
    • Notable: 27 of 40, 440 yards, 6 TDs, 1 rush TD vs. Jackson State
  • Jakob Herres, VMI, WR, Jr. (Southern)
    • Statistics: 67 receptions, 807 yards, 12.0 ypc, 7 TDs (7 games) 
    • Notable: 29 receptions, 373 yards, 5 TDs over consecutive games vs. Samford and Wofford
  • Quay Holmes, ETSU, RB, Jr. (Southern)
    • Statistics: 122 carries, 640 yards, 5.2 ypc, 8 TDs; 182.3 all-purpose ypg (6 games)
    • Notable: 310 all-purpose yards vs. Western Carolina, 293 vs. VMI
  • Tyler Hudson, Central Arkansas, WR, So. (Southland)
    • Statistics: 50 receptions, 845 yards, 16.9 ypc, 7 TDs; 15 punt returns, 119 yards, 1 TD (9 games)
    • Notable: 12 receptions, 154 receiving yards vs. Arkansas State was one of 4 100-yard games
  • Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana, QB, Sr. (Southland)
    • Statistics: 210 of 305 (68.9 percent), 2,662 yards, 18 TDs, 4 INTs; 7 rush TDs; 2 TD catches (7 games)
    • Notable: 300+ pass yards in all 7 games; 4+ total TDs in 5 of 7 games
  • Dejoun Lee, Delaware, RB, Sr. (CAA)
    • Statistics: 77 carries, 498 yards, 6.5 ypc, 5 TDs; 87-yard KOR TD; 152.2 all-purpose ypg (5 games)
    • Notable: 221 rush yards, 2 TDs, 275 all-purpose yards vs. Rhode Island
  • Keith Pearson, Presbyterian, WR, Sr. (Pioneer)
    • Statistics: 65 receptions, 831 yards, 12.8 ypc, 5 TDs; 6 punt returns, 90 yards (7 games)
    • Notable: 10+ receptions in 4 of 7 games; 100+ receiving yards in 5 of 7 games
  • Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State, RB, Jr. (Missouri Valley)
    • Statistics: 80 carries, 453 yards, 5.7 ypc, 2 TDs; 12 receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD (5 games)
    • Notable: 90+ rush yards in 4 of 5 games
  • Otis Weah, North Dakota, RB, So. (Missouri Valley)
    • Statistics: 76 carries, 570 yards, 7.5 ypc, 7 TDs (5 games)
    • Notable: 129 rush yards, TD vs. North Dakota State; TD rush in all 5 games
  • Liam Welch, Samford, QB, Grad (Southern)
    • Statistics: 161 of 236 (68.2 percent), 2,242 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs; 303 rush yards, 4 TDs (6 games)
    • Notable: 37 of 59, 570 yards, 4 TDs vs. VMI; 39 of 49, 443 yards, 1 TD vs. Mercer
  • DeAngelo Wilson, Austin Peay, WR, Sr. (Ohio Valley)
    • Statistics: 44 receptions, 619 yards, 14.1 ypc, 3 TDs (7 games)
    • Notable: 99+ receiving yards in all 5 OVC games

WATCH: Last year's Payton Award winner Trey Lance's top FCS playoff highlights

BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD – 18 Finalists

Kennesaw State Athletics Bryson Armstrong Bryson Armstrong was also a finalist for the 2019 Buck Buchanan Award.
  • Bryson Armstrong, Kennesaw State, LB, Sr. (Big South)
    • Statistics: 30 tackles (21 solo), 5.5 TFL for 27 yards, 1.5 sacks, 75-yard INT TD return (4 games)
    • Notable: 8 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks vs. Charleston Southern
  • Jared Brinkman, Northern Iowa, NT, Sr. (Missouri Valley)
    • Statistics: 38 tackles (16 solo), 9 TFL for 36 yards, 3.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 3 QBH (7 games)
    • Notable: 7 tackles in 4 of 7 games; 4.5 TFL vs. Missouri State
  • Colby Campbell, Presbyterian, LB, Sr. (Pioneer)
    • Statistics: 96 tackles (47 solo), 7 TFL for 25 yards, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 2 PBU (7 games)
    • Notable: 9+ tackles in 6 of 7 games; 25 tackles, 3 TFL vs. Davidson
  • Isaiah Chambers, McNeese, DE, Grad (Southland)
    • Statistics: 32 tackles (17 solo), 14 TFL for 70 yards, 7.5 sacks, 11 QBH, 2 PBU (7 games)
    • Notable: 7 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks vs. Northwestern State
  • Chris Edmonds, Samford, DB, So. (Southern)
    • Statistics: 40 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 TFL for 4 yards; 2 FF, 1 FR, 4 INTs with 1 TD, 1 PBU (7 games)
    • Notable: 7 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INTs vs. Furman
  • Mike Greene, James Madison, DL, Sr. (CAA)
    • Statistics: 15 tackles (9 solo), 8 TFL for 35 yards, 2.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 2 PBU (5 games)
    • Notable: TFL in all 5 games; 3.5 TFL, 1 sack vs. Elon
  • Ryan Greenhagen, Fordham, LB, Jr. (Patriot)
    • Statistics: 22 tackles (11 solo), 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU (2 games)
    • Notable: 16 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Colgate
  • Nicario Harper, Jacksonville State, S, So. (Ohio Valley)
    • Statistics: 79 tackles (39 solo), 1.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 3 PBU, 1 FR for 64-yard return, 1 QBH (11 games) 
    • Notable: 13 tackles versus Tennessee Tech
  • Kordell Jackson, Austin Peay, Nickel, Sr. (Ohio Valley)
    • Statistics: 54 tackles (31 solo), 9.5 TFL for 28 yards, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR, 4 QBH, 1 BK (9 games)
    • Notable: 7 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR versus Tennessee Tech 
  • Storey Jackson, Prairie View A&M, LB, Sr. (SWAC)
    • Statistics: 50 tackles (19 solo), 8.5 TFL for 32 yards, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT (3 games)
    • Notable: 20 tackles vs. Texas Southern, 17 vs. Grambling State
  • La’akea Kaho’ohanohano-Davis, Southern Utah, LB, Jr. (Big Sky)
    • Statistics: 57 tackles (39 solo), 9 TFL for 63 yards, 7 sacks, 2 FF, 3 QBH, 2 PBU; 131 scrimmage yards (6 games)
    • Notable: 11+ tackles in 3 of 6 games; 2 TFL in 4 of 6 games
  • Jahari Kay, Sam Houston, DE, Sr. (Southland)
    • Statistics: 22 tackles (10 solo), 8 TFL for 39 yards, 5.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT, 3 QBH (6 games)
    • Notable: 10 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, FF vs. Northwestern State
  • Titus Leo, Wagner, LB, Jr. (Northeast)
    • Statistics: 15 tackles (11 solo), 4 TFL for 16 yards, 2 sacks, 2 FF (2 games) 
    • Notable: 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF vs. Duquesne
  • Jordan Lewis, DE, Southern, DE, Jr. (SWAC)
    • Statistics: 27 tackles (17 solo), 15 TFL for 82 yards, 10.5 sacks, 1 FF (5 games)
    • Notable: 3+ TFL in 3 of 5 games; 4 sacks vs. Alabama State, 3 vs. Jackson State
  • Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas, CB, Sr. (Southland)
    • Statistics: 27 tackles (19 solo), 1 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 PBU (7 games)
    • Notable: 2021 Senior Bowl participant
  • Stone Snyder, VMI, LB, So. (Southern)
    • Statistics: 76 tackles (25 solo), 9.5 TFL for 64 yards, 8 sacks, 4 QBH (7 games)
    • Notable: 21 tackles, 2 sacks vs. The Citadel; 11+ tackles in 4 of 7 games
  • Tre Walker, Idaho, LB, Jr. (Big Sky)
    • Statistics: 54 tackles (27 solo), 4.5 TFL for 42 yards, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 1 PBU (4 games)
    • Notable: 13+ tackles in 3 of 4 games
  • Tristan Wheeler, Richmond, LB, So. (CAA)
    • Statistics: 38 tackles (16 solo), 2.5 TFL for 3 yards (4 games)
    • Notable: 14 tackles, 2 TFL vs. Elon; 11 tackles vs. James Madison

2020 FCS CHAMPIONSHIP: Live coverage of the playoffs | See the full bracket

JERRY RICE AWARD – 16 Finalists

South Dakota State Athletics Mark Gronowski Freshman QB Mark Gronowski has South Dakota State as the top seed in this year's FCS playoffs.
  • Bronson Barron, Weber State, QB (Big Sky)
    • Statistics: 56 of 101 (55.4 percent), 847 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs (4 games)
    • Notable: 17 of 27, 312 yards, 4 TDs vs. Idaho State
  • Quinton “Pig” Cage, Nicholls, Nickel (Southland)
    • Statistics: 30 tackles (22 solo), 11 TFL for 48 yards, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 3 QBH (7 games)
    • Notable: 7 TFL in consecutive games vs. Lincoln and Lamar 
  • Isaac Dowling, Mercer, LB (Southern)
    • Statistics: 90 tackles (41 solo), 8.5 TFL for 59 yards, 6.5 sacks, 2 FF, 2 QBH, 3 PBU (10 games)
    • Notable: back-to-back 16-tackle games to begin career; 17 tackles, FF vs. Samford
  • Draylen Ellis, Austin Peay, QB (Ohio Valley)
    • Statistics: 104 of 201 (51.7 percent), 1,270 yards, 14 TDs, 4 INT; 2 rush TDs (7 games)
    • Notable: 23 of 43, 262 yards, 6 TDs vs. Southeast Missouri
  • Ty French, Gardner-Webb, DE (Big South)
    • Statistics: 34 tackles (13 solo), 8 TFL for 38 yards, 4 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 9 QBH, 1 PBU, 1 BK (4 games)
    • Notable: 12 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH vs. Elon
  • Mark Gronowski, South Dakota State, QB (Missouri Valley)
    • Statistics: 76 of 133 (57.1 percent), 1,051 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs; 383 rush yards, 6 TDs (6 games) 
    • Notable: 309 pass yards, 2 TDs vs. North Dakota; 3 100-yard rush games
  • Billy Lucas, Duquesne, RB (Northeast)
    • Statistics: 66 carries, 297 yards, 4.5 ypc, 2 TDs (5 games)
    • Notable: 110 rush yards in consecutive games vs. Bryant and Sacred Heart
  • Seth Morgan, VMI, QB (Southern)
    • Statistics: 92 of 121 (76.0 percent), 1,088 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT; 198 rush yards, 2 TD (6 games)
    • Notable: Accounted for 1,165 yards of total offense and 9 TDs in final three starts
  • Tony Muskett, Monmouth, QB (Big South)
    • Statistics: 51 of 82 (62.2 percent), 742 yards, 8 TDs, 0 INTs (3 games)
    • Notable: 19 of 23, 290 yards, 4 TDs vs. Kennesaw State
  • Ryan Nettles, Alabama State, QB (SWAC)
    • Statistics: 85 of 144 (59.0 percent), 917 yards, 8 TDs, 5 INTs; 110 rush yards, 1 TD (5 games)
    • Notable: 361 yards of total offense, 4 total TDs vs. Mississippi Valley State
  • Tommy Schuster, North Dakota, QB (Missouri Valley)
    • Statistics: 100 of 153 (65.4 percent), 992 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs (5 games)
    • Notable: 29 of 37, 328 yards, 3 TDs vs. Western Illinois
  • Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross, QB (Patriot)
    • Statistics: 10 of 14 (71.4 percent), 111 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 212 rush yards, 4 TDs (3 games)
    • Notable: 12 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs with 1 TD pass vs. Fordham; 3 total TDs vs. Bucknell
  • Devon Starling, Tennessee State, RB (Ohio Valley)
    • Statistics: 124 carries, 647 yards, 5.2 ypc, 3 TDs (7 games)
    • Notable: 149 yards vs. Murray State; 134 yards, 1 TD vs. UT Martin
  • Keyon Turner, Valparaiso, CB (Pioneer)
    • Statistics: 25 tackles (7 solo), 2 TFL for 7 yards, 4 INTs with 37 return yards, 2 PBU, 2 FR, 1 QBH (6 games)
    • Notable: Interception or fumble recovery in all 6 games
  • Jared Verse, Albany, DE (CAA)
    • Statistics: 22 tackles (15 solo), 10 TFL for 36 yards, 4 sacks, 1 QBH, 1 BK (4 games)
    • Notable: 4 TFL, 2 sacks vs. Rhode Island; 10 tackles, 3 TFL vs. Stony Brook
  • Cameron Ward, UIW, QB (Southland)
    • Statistics: 183 of 303 (60.4 percent), 2,260 yards, 24 TDs, 4 INTs; 2 rush TDs (6 games)
    • Notable: 300+ pass yards in all 6 games; 6 TD passes vs. Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls

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EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD – 16 Finalists

VMI Athletics VMI Coach Scott Wachenheim led VMI to its first FCS playoff berth this year.
  • Scott Abell, Davidson (Pioneer)
    • Team Record: 4-2, 4-1 (1st)         
    • Notable: Wildcats earned first conference title since 1969 as well as first FCS playoff bid
  • Kevin Callahan, Monmouth (Big South)
    • Team Record: 3-0 (1st)
    • Notable: Hawks earned second straight outright conference title and third playoff bid in four years
  • Dave Cecchini, Bucknell (Patriot)
    • Team Record: 2-2 (1st North Division)
    • Notable: Bison played in first Patriot League championship game
  • Curt Cignetti, James Madison (CAA)
    • Team Record: 5-0, 3-0 (1st South Division)
    • Notable: Second-year coach improved to 11-0 in conference as Dukes earned No. 3 playoff seed
  • Bryan Collins, LIU (Northeast)
    • Team Record: 2-2 (Tie/3rd)
    • Notable: Sharks earned first two wins as an FCS program after a winless debut in 2019
  • Landon Fox, Valparaiso (Pioneer)
    • Team Record: 4-2 (Tie/2nd)
    • Notable: After Fox’s one-win debut in 2019, Crusaders posted best winning percentage since 2003
  • Jay Hill, Weber State (Big Sky)
    • Team Record: 5-0 (1st)
    • Notable: Wildcats won fourth straight conference title and earned fifth straight playoff bid
  • Dean Hood, Murray State (Ohio Valley)
    • Team Record: 5-2 (2nd)
    • Notable: In Hood’s first season, Racers tied 1995 team for the best start (5-0) in program history
  • K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston (Southland)
    • Team Record: 6-0 (1st)
    • Notable: Bearkats captured Southland title by two games before earning No. 2 playoff seed
  • Connell Maynor, Alabama A&M (SWAC)
    • Team Record: 4-0, 3-0 (1st East Division)
    • Notable: Brought Bulldogs back from 35-day layoff to guide first SWAC championship berth since 2011
  • Rod Milstead, Delaware State (MEAC)
    • Team Record: 2-3
    • Notable: Overtime loss to South Carolina State all that denied winning season for much-improved team
  • Bobby Petrino, Missouri State (Missouri Valley)
    • Team Record: 5-4, 5-1 (Tie/1st)
    • Notable: In Petrino’s first season, Bears picked ninth, then earned share of first MVFC title since 1990
  • Charles “Doc” Roberts, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC) 
    • Team Record: 4-0 (1st West Division)
    • Notable: Interim coach has led Golden Lions to SWAC championship game for first time since 2012
  • Danny Rocco, Delaware (CAA)
    • Team Record: 5-0, 4-0 (1st North Division)
    • Notable: Blue Hens matched 2019 win total while earning CAA’s automatic playoff bid
  • Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert, North Dakota (Missouri Valley)
    • Team Record: 4-1 (Tie/1st)
    • Notable: Fighting Hawks earned MVFC title share in first season in the conference as well as playoff bid
  • Scott Wachenheim, VMI (Southern)
    • Team Record: 6-1 (1st)
    • Notable: Keydets captured first SoCon title since 1977 and program’s first-ever FCS playoff bid

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