CHICAGO/DALLAS – January 2, 2019 – STATS, the worldwide leader in sports data and intelligence, announced that it will hand out five legacy awards at its annual FCS awards banquet in Frisco, Texas, on January 4, 2019 – livestreamed via Facebook Live on the FCS Football Facebook page.
Before North Dakota State and Eastern Washington meet in the FCS national championship game at Toyota Stadium on January 5, the subdivision’s standouts will be honored at a gala event at the Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco Convention Center. Last January, 150 attendees representing a cross-section of FCS roles came together at STATS’ third awards ceremony.
The five awards to be presented are:
The STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, given to the FCS’ offensive player of the year;
The STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, given to its defensive player of the year;
The STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award, given to its coach of the year;
The STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award, given to its freshman of the year; and
The STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award, given to the student-athlete who excels not only on the field and in the classroom, but in the community and beyond.
Three winners have already been announced and will receive their awards on Friday night, including:
- STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award Winner Dan Hawkins, the UC Davis head coach who is in his second season directing a program that didn’t have a winning season since 2010. The 1984 UC Davis graduate led the Aggies to a 10-3 record and a share of their first Big Sky championship and berth in the FCS playoffs, where they reached the quarterfinals. They also achieved their first national ranking on the FCS level, rising as high as No. 4 under the 2018 STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award recipient. (more)
- STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award Winner Josh Davis, who led all FCS rookies in rushing and all-purpose yards and scored 10 touchdowns for Weber State. The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder went over 100 yards eight times, including two games over 200 yards, and finished with 1,362 yards on 250 carries. He averaged 148.3 all-purpose yards per game as Weber State became Big Sky tri-champions and reached the national quarterfinals for the second straight postseason. (more)
- STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award Winner Chris Infantino, the Stony Brook senior offensive tackle who is studying to become a doctor, seeking to change lives by treating disorders of the brain and spinal cord. Having already graduated as a double major in biology and psychology, he is pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical sciences with a concentration in neuroscience. (more)
The STATS FCS Walter Payton Award and STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award winners will be announced at the ceremony. The STATS FCS Walter Payton Award finalists are three quarterbacks at the top of their game — Kennesaw State’s Chandler Burks, Samford’s Devlin Hodges and North Dakota State’s Easton Stick (more). The STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award finalists are three record-setting players — junior linebackers Zach Hall of Southeast Missouri and Dante Olson of Montana, and senior defensive end Derick Roberson of Sam Houston State (more).
Recent banquets have been highlighted by awards presenters such as Jerry Rice, Jarrett Payton, Doug Williams, Gary Reasons, Dexter Coakley and Everson Walls, with footage shot by ESPN for use on its title-game telecast.
Founded by Mickey Charles of The Sports Network, the annual honors date back to 1987, when the Payton Award was presented to running back Kenny Gamble of Colgate and the Eddie Robinson Award went to Mark Duffner of Holy Cross. Since then, names of future NFL stars like Steve McNair, Brian Westbrook and Tony Romo have been called up to accept the Payton Award, which is often referred to as the “Heisman of the FCS.” Last season, Sam Houston State’s Jeremiah Briscoe won the award for the second year in a row, becoming just the second two-time recipient of the 32-year-old award, joining Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards in 2008 and ’09.
The Buchanan Award was first presented in 1995 and includes notable FCS alums Coakley and Jared Allen. Current Los Angeles Rams standout receiver Cooper Kupp is a past recipient of the Rice Award, which was first handed out in 2011. The Doris Robinson Award, named for the wife of legendary Grambling State head coach Eddie Robinson, was introduced in 2015 to honor service to the community and excellence in academics.
The same national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers, and other dignitaries who select the STATS FCS Top 25 poll – numbering over 150 voters – choose the award winners.