Thanksgiving Week signals the start of two important processes in the world of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
The Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving is reserved for NCAA DI FCS first round playoff matchups, kicking off the 24-team championship tournament also known as the #RoadToFrisco.
Earlier in the week, STATS Inc opens the annual voting for its FCS legacy awards.
Entering its 30th season, the FCS legacy awards program continues to celebrate the high quality of play in the Football Championship Subdivision as well as some of the sport’s most-recognizable historical figures.
The recipients of four major awards — the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) — will be chosen by a voting panel that consists of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
The Northeast Conference has a combined seven finalists for the four honors, marking the NEC’s largest presence ever in the awards program.
All four awards and the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.
Check out the NEC’s candidates below along with lists of national finalists for each award.
WALTER PAYTON AWARD
Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne: 208 of 363, 2,865 yards, 23 TD, 10 INT, 139.0 passing efficiency (11 games)
Kamron Lewis, WR, Saint Francis: 69 receptions, 1,349 yards, 10 TD; 4 KO returns, 90 yards (11 games)
BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD
Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis: 53 TT (30 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2.5 SK, 6 INT, 5 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 TD; 1 reception, 48 yards, 1 TD; 14 KO returns, 405 yards, 1 TD (9 games)
Christian Kuntz, LB, Duquesne: 64 TT (38 solo), 24 TFL, 11.5 SK, 2 PBU, 7 QBH, 1 FR, 3 FF, 1 TD (11 games)
JERRY RICE AWARD
A.J. Hines, RB, Duquesne: 242 carries, 1,296 yards, 13 TD; 15 receptions, 200 yards, 1 TD (11 games)
Gee Stanley, LB, Robert Morris: 59 TT (29 solo), 12.5 TFL, 8.5 SK, 1 PBU, 4 QBH, 3 FR, 3 FF (11 games)
EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD
Chris Villarrial, Saint Francis – The Red Flash didn’t have a winning record in their Division I history until the last two seasons, and Villarrial made it a first Northeast Conference title and FCS playoff bid this year. Records: 7-4, 5-1 NEC.
Complete Lists of Finalists…
WALTER PAYTON AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Offensive Player of the Year)
Khalid Abdullah, RB, James Madison; Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State; Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne; Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State; Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T; Julie’n Davenport, LT, Bucknell; Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham; Austin Gahafer, QB, Morehead State; Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State; Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington; Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford; De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina; Devlin Hodges, QB, Samford; KD Humphries, QB, Murray State; Eli Jenkins, QB, Jacksonville State; DeVante Kincade, QB, Grambling State; Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington; Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond; Kamron Lewis, WR, Saint Francis; Tyrell Maxwell, QB, Gardner-Webb; Troy Pelletier, WR, Lehigh; Bryan Schor, QB, James Madison; Lenard Tillery, RB, Southern; Justin Watson, WR, Penn; Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Defensive Player of the Year)
Pat Afriyie, DE, Colgate; Darien Anderson, LB, Alcorn State; Mike Basile, S, Monmouth; Christopher Beaschler, LB, Dayton; Dylan Cole, LB, Missouri State; Winston Craig, DE, Richmond; Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga; Dee Delaney, CB, The Citadel; Garrett Dolan, LB, Houston Baptist; Anthony Ellis, DE, Charleston Southern; Chad Geter, LB, Gardner-Webb; P.J. Hall, DE, Sam Houston State; Darius Jackson, DE, Jacksonville State; Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis; Javancy Jones, DE, Jackson State; Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova; Christian Kuntz, LB, Duquesne; Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State; Folarin Orimolade, LB, Dartmouth; Donald Payne, S, Stetson; Cole Reyes, S, North Dakota; Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State; Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa; Alex Searce, LB, Coastal Carolina; Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois
JERRY RICE AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Freshman Player of the Year)
Tyrie Adams, QB, Western Carolina; Jordan Bentley, RB, Alabama A&M; Marlon Bridges, S, Jacksonville State; Elijah Burress, QB, Campbell; Stephen Calvert, QB, Liberty; Jaylan Foster, CB, Gardner-Webb; Chase Fourcade, QB, Nicholls; A.J. Hines, RB, Duquesne; Torrey Hunt, CB, North Dakota; Pop Lacey, S, New Hampshire; Sully Laiche, DE, Nicholls; Joe Logan, RB, Northern Arizona; Jerry Louie-McGee, WR, Montana; Steven Newbold, WR, Tennessee State; Corey Parker, S, William & Mary; Alex Probert, PK, Liberty; Max Roberts, LB, Fordham; Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State; Shane Simpson, RB/RS, Towson; Prince Smith Jr., CB, New Hampshire; Gee Stanley, LB, Robert Morris; Ryan Stanley, QB, Florida A&M; Nathan Stewart, WR, Sam Houston State
EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Coach of the Year)
Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State; Rod Broadway, North Carolina A&T; Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas; Andy Coen, Lehigh; Broderick Fobbs, Grambling State; Mike Houston, James Madison; K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston State; Chris Klieman, North Dakota State; Dale Lindsey, San Diego; Jerry Mack, North Carolina Central; Bubba Schwiegert, North Dakota; Jason Simpson, UT Martin; Bob Surace, Princeton; Brent Thompson, The Citadel; Chris Villarrial, Saint Francis