CHICAGO – November 19, 2018 – STATS, the worldwide leader in sports data and intelligence, announced today that it will once again hand out five legacy awards at its annual FCS awards banquet in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 4, 2019 – the night before the subdivision’s national championship game.
Before the FCS’ best team is crowned, its standout players 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 24-team FCS playoff field, which was officially announced Sunday, will be down to two finalists playing for the title at nearby Toyota Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 5 in Frisco.
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
“The FCS banquet continues to be one of the highlight events on the calendar for us,” said Brian Orefice, STATS’ Director of News and Data. “The sense of community that has evolved with the players, coaches and legends over the last four years has been incredible. It’s a fitting reflection of our core mission as a company, which is grounded by a passion for all levels of sport.”
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 31-year-old award, joining Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards in 2008 and ’09.
The Buchanan Award goes back to 1995 and includes such notable alums as Coakley and Jared Allen, while the Rice Award already has been sending players to the NFL since its creation in 2011. The Doris Robinson Award was introduced in 2015 to honor the service to community and academics of the legendary Grambling State coach’s wife.
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 – will choose the winners.
Defending national champion North Dakota State has remained undefeated all season, going wire-to-wire as the nation’s No. 1 team in the STATS FCS Top 25. This year, one-quarter of the playoff field comes out of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), including outright champion Maine, Delaware, Elon, James Madison, Stony Brook and Towson. Twenty-one FCS teams have made an appearance in the poll’s top 10 at some point during 2018.
In 2015, STATS expanded an initiative to serve the FCS community with staples such as a pre- and postseason All-America team, weekly Top 25 poll, national players of the week, award watch lists and season-ending awards. The company’s dedicated FCS website – www.fcs.football – features breaking news, real-time scores and other content that combines the strengths of STATS’ data, editorial and product expertise. In 2017, the site attracted 225,000 unique users and more than two million page views.
The FCS competes at the NCAA’s Division I level, and is home to 125 schools in 13 conferences across the country. Approximately 160 FCS players were on NFL rosters at the start of the 2018 season, including current stars like quarterbacks Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles, North Dakota State), Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers, Eastern Illinois) and Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, Delaware), and running backs David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals, UNI) and Tarik Cohen (Chicago Bears, North Carolina A&T).