football-fcs flag

Stan Becton | | March 22, 2023

Jerry Rice Award: Complete history of the FCS freshman honor

North Dakota State's football dynasty

The Jerry Rice Award is given each year to the most outstanding freshman player in FCS football. Idaho quarterback Gevani McCoy received the 2022 award.

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

MORE: Walter Payton Award history Buck Buchanan Award history

FCS Jerry Rice Award: What is it and who is it named after?

The Jerry Rice Award debuted in 2011 to honor the most outstanding freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

A national panel of more than 40 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 the FCS playoffs.

The Jerry Rice 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 freshman player of the year award's namesake, Jerry Rice, was an NFL legend with the San Francisco 49ers, also playing for three other teams. Rice earned 13 NFL Pro Bowl trips, 10 first-team All-Pros, three Super Bowls, and a Super Bowl MVP amongst other accolades. The 1985 first-round pick began his journey at FCS program Mississippi Valley State from 1981-1984. 

Rice, an All-American wide receiver, measured in at 6’2’’ and 200 pounds. He earned All-American accolades twice, setting records for receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Rice is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fordham Athletics Chase Edmonds Jerry Rice AwardFordham running back Chase Edmonds won the 2014 Jerry Rice Award

FCS Jerry Rice Award: When is the winner announced?

The Jerry Rice Award winner is revealed annually after the conclusion of the FCS regular season. The 2022 recipient was announced Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. 

All five STATS FCS national honors are celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, 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.

FCS HISTORY: The 9 all-time winningest FCS programs | 7 of the most unbreakable FCS records

The first Jerry Rice Award watch list is released during the season by STATS FCS. The list has updates periodically, culminating in the announcement of finalists.

FCS Jerry Rice Award: Complete history of past recipients

Idaho quarterback Gevani McCoy is the 12th recipient of the Jerry Rice Award. McCoy completed 203-297 passes, setting the Idaho single-season completion percentage record at 68.4 percent.He passed for 2,791 yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, even catching a touchdown pass during the season. He also led Idaho to its first winning season since 2016 and first FCS playoff appearance since 1995. 

Quarterbacks and running backs have accounted for a position-best five winners since the award debuted in 2011. One wide receiver and one linebacker have also been honored. No school has multiple winners.

Other notable past honorees include eventual NFL stars Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington, 2013), Chase Edmonds (Fordham, 2014) and Trey Lance (2019). See the full list below.

FCS CHAMPIONSHIP: How the FCS playoffs work | Schools with most titles | Full championship history

FCS Jerry Rice Award winners (2011-2021):

2022 Gevani McCoy, Idaho Quarterback Top plays
2021 Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State  Quarterback  Top plays
2020 Cameron Ward, UIW Quarterback  
2019 Trey Lance, North Dakota State Quarterback Career in review
2018 Josh Davis, Weber State Running Back  
2017 Bryson Armstrong, Kennesaw State Linebacker  
2016 A.J. Hines, Duquesne Running Back  
2015 Case Cookus, Northern Arizona Quarterback  
2014 Chase Edmonds, Fordham Running Back  
2013 Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington Wide Receiver Career in review
2012 John Robertson, Villanova Quarterback  
2011 Terrance West, Towson Running Back  

7 questions to be answered in the second round of the FCS playoffs

With eight second-round FCS playoff games up next, here are some burning questions that will be answered this week.

FCS football scores: No. 8 Idaho knocks off No. 2 Montana State in pivotal Big Sky battle

Idaho upset Montana State in an FCS battle of top-10 ranked Big Sky teams.

South Dakota State, Montana State lead FCS football committee's top 10

The FCS football playoff committee revealed its top 10 teams less than a month before selections.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners