By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Three outstanding quarterbacks who hope to cap their seasons in the NCAA Division I Championship Game next month already know they will make the trip to Frisco, Texas, for the announcement of the Walter Payton Award.
Matt Barr of Western Illinois, Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin and DeAndre Presley of Appalachian State have been invited to the 24th Annual Football Championship Subdivision Awards Presentation on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 6. The Sports Network presents and Fathead.com sponsors the Walter Payton Award that is bestowed on the outstanding player in the FCS.
Barr, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior, is the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He has helped Western Illinois overcome a 1-10 season a year ago with an 8-4 turnaround this season. He has completed 216- of-358 pass attempts (60.3 percent) for 3,312 yards and 26 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, and ranks second in the FCS in passing efficiency rating (158.10), fifth in total offense (313.7 yards per game) and sixth in passing (276 yards per game). He has rushed for 452 yards and seven touchdowns.
"It's been a lot of fun and I'm really proud of the team and the great turnaround that we've had," Barr said. "Offensively, what we've been able to do is pretty special and I'm really proud of everybody
"This is a huge honor, an honor that I'm very proud of. I could not have done it without my talents, my coaches and the whole football department. I just can't wait to get down there and see who wins."
Moses, a 6-0, 195-pound senior, is the Southland Conference Player of the Year for a second straight season, leading Stephen F. Austin to the conference title and a 9-2 record. He ranks first in the FCS in completions (303), attempts (499), touchdown passes (34) and passing yards (3,658). He has thrown only four interceptions while racking up 325.6 yards of total offense per game, which ranks third nationally. His passing efficiency rating of 143.18 ranks 17th.
"It's a huge team effort. In this offense, you have to have 11 guys on the same page," Moses said.
"It's an honor. I couldn't be happier not only for myself, but to represent the university. This whole year has been about we want to make history for the university. We won back-to-back conference championships, and it's never been done here before. We want to establish a tradition of winning. And this kind of goes along with it."
Presley, a 5-11, 170-pound junior, has taken over for Armanti Edwards, the Payton Award winner in 2008 and '09, and helped Appalachian State to a 9-2 record, a share of a sixth straight Southern Conference title and the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs. Presley, the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year, is a dual-threat quarterback who ranks ninth nationally in passing efficiency rating (148.26) and 13th in total offense (270.55 ypg). He has completed 177- of-280 pass attempts (63.2 percent) for 2,223 yards and 18 touchdowns against only four interceptions, and rushed for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"I believe the one thing that I've done is disregard everything else and just focused on controlling the things that I can control," Presley said. "I can't control how people are going to react to me being a quarterback, I can?t control the decision-making that our coaches make. The only thing I can control is the way I prepare for every game and every practice and step into this role that I have stepped into.
"I really didn't expect to be on the Walter Payton list."
Barr and Presley will cross paths on Saturday when their teams face each other in the second round of the playoffs. The winner of that game could possibly meet Moses and his SFA squad in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Dec. 11. All three quarterbacks aspire to lead their team to the national championship game, to be played Friday, Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco.
The Payton Award was voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. Other finalists on the ballot were quarterbacks Mike Brown of Liberty, Pat Devlin of Delaware, Denarius McGhee of Montana State, Scott Riddle of Elon, Casey Therriault of Jackson State, Steve Valentino of Dayton and Chris Whitney of Villanova; running backs Nate Eachus of Colgate, Chris Evans of Samford, Henry Harris of Southeast Missouri State, Taiwan Jones of Eastern Washington, Kyle Minett of South Dakota State, Chase Reynolds of Montana and Frank Warren of Grambling State; wide receiver Tysson Poots of Southern Utah and Raymond Webber of Arkansas-Pine Bluff; and offensive tackle Ben Ijalana of Villanova.
Other nominees this season were quarterbacks K.J. Black of Prairie View A&M, Thomas DeMarco of Old Dominion, Michael Herrick of Northern Arizona, Cameron Higgins of Weber State, Malcolm Long of South Carolina State and Andrew Selle of Montana; running backs Jonathan Grimes of William & Mary and Devon Moore of Appalachian State; and wide receiver Matt Szczur of Villanova.
In addition to the Payton Award, the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the FCS' outstanding defensive player, and the Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the FCS' coach of the year, will be announced at the national awards ceremony. The Sports Network presents and Fathead.com also sponsors those two awards.