By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Final of a three-part series profiling the top finalists for the 2010 Walter Payton Award.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Before the 2010 season, Appalachian State coaches told quarterback DeAndre Presley to manage games and not to worry about winning any for the Mountaineers.
From the first game, Presley did both.
No position was under a microscope more this season than Appalachian State's quarterback. The Mountaineers had to replace Armanti Edwards, the starter on their 2006 and '07 national championship squads, and the first two-time Walter Payton Award winner in 2008 and '09.
"This was something that a lot of people focused on," Presley said, "the whole quarterbacking change, with Armanti leaving and me and/or Jamal (Jackson) or whoever it would have been when we were in the (preseason) camp. I believe the one thing that I've done was disregard everything else and just focus on controlling the things that I can control."
During the season-opening game at Chattanooga, Presley displayed his control of the ASU offense. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior rallied the Mountaineers from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to a 42-41 win. He completed 22-of-29 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 25 yards and two touchdowns, and scored a TD "reception" that was the oddest play of the game.
With the game tied 35-35, Chattanooga jumped offsides on 3rd-and-1 from the Mocs? 29-yard line, giving Presley and the Mountaineers a free play. Presley threw a quick pass to wide receiver Matt Cline, who was drilled by a defender and fumbled the ball. Presley picked it up and followed blocks into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown from 33 yards out. Statistically, Cline collected the reception and Presley the 33 receiving yards.
Presley, who didn't throw an interception in the first seven games, became a Payton Award finalist. During the regular season, he 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. He ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency rating (148.26) and 13th in total offense (270.55 ypg) while ASU posted a 9-2 record, won a share of its sixth straight Southern Conference title and captured the No. 1 seed for the FCS playoffs.
The Mountaineers beat Western Illinois in the second round and bowed out in the quarterfinals against Villanova to finish with a 10-3 record.
The announcement of the Payton Award, presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com, will be made at the 24th Annual FCS Awards Banquet on Thursday night, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas. Presley, Western Illinois quarterback Matt Barr and Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses are among the top three vote-getters and will be in attendance for the announcement of the winner.
"Armanti was a little better of a scrambler guy, where DeAndre sits in the pocket a little bit longer," Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore said. "They both have really nice arms, they have quick releases and they have good vision."
"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," Presley said. "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."