CHICAGO — Quarterbacks Eric Barriere of Eastern Washington and Cole Kelley of Southeastern Louisiana and running back Julius Chestnut of Sacred Heart were invited on Wednesday to the announcement of the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award, which honors the offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
The trio was among 16 finalists for the Payton, named for the legendary running back and in its 34th season. The winner will be announced on an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks (formerly Fox Sports Regional Networks) on Saturday, May 15.
Past recipients of the Heisman of the FCS include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and, most recently Trey Lance, who is expected to be one of the early NFL Draft selections Thursday night.
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Barriere (Big Sky), Chestnut (Northeast) and Kelley (Southland) received the offensive player of the year award in their respective conference. Each was a Stats Perform national offensive player of the week during the regular season.
Barriere, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, ranked in the top five nationally over a six-game regular season in passing yards (2,193, fourth), passing yards per game (365.5, fifth), attempts (265, fifth), completions (166, fifth), touchdown passes (18, tied for third) and total offensive yards (2,328, third). He went on to pass for 246 yards and a touchdown in a playoff loss this past weekend.
Chestnut, a 6-1, 215-pound junior, rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown in a playoff loss as well. It followed a four-game regular season in which he led the FCS in rushing yards per game (179.3) and all-purpose yards per game (222.0) and ranked second in points per game (17.0) and fourth in yards per carry (7.7).
Kelley, a 6-7, 260-pound senior, played in seven regular-season games, leading the FCS in passing yards (2,662), completions (210), total offensive yards (2,708) and total touchdowns (27). He also was in the top five in pass attempts (305, second), TD passes (18, tied for third) and completion percentage (68.9, fifth).
A 40-member national media panel voted on the Payton Award following the unprecedented 2020-21 regular season, which spanned the fall and spring semesters.
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2020-21 Walter Payton Award voting results
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.
1. TBA, May 15
2. TBA, May 15
3. TBA, May 15
4. Jakob Herres, WR, VMI: 1-4-5-2-4-44
5. Otis Weah, RB, North Dakota: 1-1-5-2-5-33
6. Aqeel Glass, RB, Alabama A&M: 1-1-2-4-7-30
7. Dejoun Lee, RB, Delaware: 0-4-1-1-1-22
8.(tie) Juwon Farri, RB, Monmouth: 0-2-1-2-5-20
8.(tie) Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State: 0-2-1-3-3-20
10. Liam Welch, QB, Samford: 0-1-3-1-4-19
11.(tie) Percy Agyei-Obese, RB, James Madison: 1-0-2-1-1-14
11.(tie) Tyler Hudson, WR, Central Arkansas: 0-1-1-2-3-14
13. Quay Holmes, RB, ETSU: 0-1-2-1-1-13
14. Keith Pearson, WR, Presbyterian: 0-0-0-4-1-9
15. DeAngelo Wilson, WR, Austin Peay: 0-1-1-0-1-8
16. Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham: 0-0-0-1-0-2