CHICAGO – December 16, 2019 – Today, Stats Perform, the revolutionary leader in sports AI and data, announced that it will hand out five legacy awards at its annual FCS awards banquet in Frisco, Texas, on January 10, 2020 – livestreamed via Facebook Live on the FCS Football Facebook page.
Before the FCS national championship game at Toyota Stadium on January 11, 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 Perform’s fourth annual awards ceremony.
The five awards to be presented are:
- The Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award, given to the FCS’ offensive player of the year;
- The Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award, given to its defensive player of the year;
- The Stats Perform FCS Eddie Robinson Award, given to its coach of the year;
- The Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, given to its freshman of the year; and
- The Stats Perform 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.
“Getting to meet and recognize standout players and coaches at the FCS banquet is one of the annual highlights for the company,” Stats Perform vice president of global operations Brian Orefice said. “This year is particularly special given that STATS significantly broadened its reach with the recent acquisition of Perform to create a true global sports data superpower. For all of our market differentiation around AI and technology, the ceremony gives us an opportunity to highlight the core values that underpin our culture and products: a passion for sport at all levels, and the people associated with it.”
Three winners have already been announced and will receive their awards on January 10, including:
- Stats Perform FCS Eddie Robinson Award Winner Troy Taylor, Sacramento State’s first-year head coach who led the program to nine regular-season wins, a share of the Big Sky Conference title, and FCS playoff qualification—all firsts for the program. The former star quarterback at Cal is recognized as an innovative play caller, leading his team to only two losses to FCS teams, with a regular season that was highlighted by three straight wins over nationally ranked opponents—traditional Big Sky powers Eastern Washington, Montana State and Montana. Sacramento State ended the regular season ranked No. 3 under the 2019 Stats Perform FCS Eddie Robinson Award recipient. (more)
- Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award Winner Trey Lance, who has led undefeated and No. 1-ranked North Dakota State all season, throwing for 25 touchdowns and remarkably no interceptions. The Bison quarterback has completed 171 of 256 passes on the season for 2,491 yards, ranking No. 1 in the FCS in pass efficiency rating (180.8) and is No. 5 in completion percentage (66.8). He is the first freshman to receive the MVFC’s offensive player of the year award and has paired his elite passing with a strong ground game, averaging 6.8 yards per carry while rushing for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns. (more)
- Stats Perform FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award Winner Alex Pechin, the Bucknell punter achieved greatness inside and outside the classroom. On the field, Pechin averaged an FCS-high 47.3 yards in his final season, helping Bucknell also rank No. 1 nationally in net punting yards (43.4). In the classroom, Pechin carries a 3.90 grade point average as he finished off a biomedical engineering and management for engineers double major at Bucknell. On top of a bright potential future in the NFL, he aspires to bring advancements in the medical field. (more)
The Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award and Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award winners will be announced at the ceremony. For the first time, there will be four Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award finalists, three quarterbacks and one running back at the top of their games — Northern Arizona senior quarterback Case Cookus, Monmouth junior running back Pete Guerriero, North Dakota State redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance and Sacramento State junior quarterback Kevin Thomson (more). The Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award finalists are three conference players of the year — Senior defensive ends Ron’Dell Carter of James Madison and Sully Laiche of Nicholls and senior linebacker Dante Olson of Montana (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, Samford’s Devlin Hodges won the award before becoming an undrafted free agent signing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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 Perform FCS Top 25 poll – numbering over 150 voters – choose the award winners.