Adams one of three finalists for Payton Award
Posted on December 4, 2013 at 12:10 AM
Eastern Washington University quarterback Vernon Adams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, The Sports Network announced Tuesday.
Adams, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois and running back Terrance West of Towson have been invited to the announcement of the 27th Walter Payton Award, bestowed on the outstanding player in the FCS and considered the Heisman Trophy of the former Division I-AA level.
The winner will be announced at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia. The winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) also will be feted that night.
Awards voting is based on the regular season.
The talents of Adams, Garoppolo and West are undeniable, and the statistics of the three have been otherworldly. Beginning with Eastern Washington beating Oregon State, Eastern Illinois topping San Diego State and Towson stopping Connecticut in the opening week of the season, the Payton Award finalists have commanded center stage.
Eastern Washington's rich tradition of quarterbacks feature Walter Payton Award winners in Erik Meyer and Bo Levi Mitchell, and a former finalist, Matt Nichols, who is the Big Sky Conference's all-time passing yardage leader.
But, says Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin, "Vernon's season this year is the best I've seen since I've been a college football coach."
Adams' season of leading the Eastern Washington offense has been breathtaking ever since he racked up 518 total yards and six total touchdowns in a season- opening win at nationally ranked Oregon State. The 6-foot, 190-pound redshirt sophomore from Pasadena, Calif., went on to become the offensive player of the year in the Big Sky.
Adams threw for six touchdowns against rival Montana, with three other games of five touchdowns, and he finished EWU's 10-2 regular season with 4,059 passing yards and a conference-record 46 touchdown passes. With another 491 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, he led the FCS in total offensive yards per game (379.2) as well as pass efficiency rating (185.7).
"I've improved a lot," he said. "Last year, I had three great receivers and all I had to do was throw it up to those guys and they were making me look real good, helping me get the freshman (honors). I was just running like a chicken with my head cut off. I was only 170 (pounds), I was just trying to run around. Now this year, I'm actually seeing defenses, I'm seeing coverages they're starting to throw a lot more down for me. Coach (Beau) Baldwin and Coach (Zak) Hill, my quarterback coach, they're doing a great job helping me watch a lot of film and helping me see what coverages defenses are in, just helping me altogether be a better quarterback."