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Armanti Edwards wins 2008 Walter Payton Award

Appalachian State quarterback honored as the most outstanding player in FCS college football

Armanti Edwards
Armanti Edwards rushed for 941 yards and 11 touchdowns, while completing 64% of his passes for 2,902 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) - Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards was named the 22nd winner of the Walter Payton Award on Thursday night at The Sports Network's Football Championship Subdivision Awards Banquet, held at the Chattanooga Marriott on the eve of the NCAA Division I Football Championship title game.

The Payton Award, named for the legendary Jackson State and Chicago Bears running back, is presented annually to the top player in FCS.

"It's a great accomplishment and a great feeling," Edwards said. "I always congratulate my team, because without them, I wouldn't (even) be a finalist."

The 6-foot-tall, 184-pound junior signal-caller rushed for 941 yards and 11 touchdowns, while completing 64% of his passes for 2,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. He ranked second nationally in passing efficiency, seventh in total offense (296 yards per game, 3,843 total yards) and 11th in passing yards.

Edwards, one of the team captains for the Mountaineers, saved his best games for the brightest spotlight. Facing South Carolina State in the first round of this year's playoffs, Edwards completed 29-of-41 passes for a school-record 433 yards and four touchdowns, breaking predecessor Richie Williams' mark of 413 in 2004 in a 37-21 win.

In a nationally televised game against Wofford for first place in the Southern Conference earlier in the year, Edwards was 17-of-19 passing for 367 yards and five touchdowns and added 73 yards and one TD rushing on just 11 carries. Edwards played only one series of the fourth quarter in that game, as he led the Mountaineers to a 70-24 victory.

"He's made a huge difference in our football program from the beginning," Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said. "He's been a great example on the field and in the classroom. Our team really rallies around him."

Edwards finished first in one of the most lopsided Payton Award races in history with 53 first-place votes and 398 points. James Madison quarterback Rodney Landers was second with 17 first-place votes and 290 points, with Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson placing third with 209 points.

The Walter Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network and previous winners of the honor include current NFL players such as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (2002, Eastern Illinois) and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (2001, Villanova), and former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair (1994, Alcorn State).