Hatboro, PA -
quarterbacks were named as the finalists for the 2007 Walter Payton Award,
The Sports Network announced this week.
Georgia Southern's Jayson Foster, San Diego's Josh Johnson and Eric
Sanders of Northern Iowa are the three finalists. The Payton Award winner
will be named December 13th at the Chattanooga Marriott during the annual
Sports Network awards dinner.
The Buck Buchanan Award, bestowed upon the best defensive player in
FCS, and Eddie Robinson Award, for the best coach in the
sub-classification, along with The Sports Network Cup, for the top
Mid-Major team will also be handed out that night.
2006 Payton Award winner Ricky Santos of New Hampshire finished fifth
in the 2007 balloting, which included votes from a national panel of FCS
sports information directors and selected FCS media from around the
country. The three finalists are:
Jayson Foster, Georgia Southern, Quarterback, 5-9, 164, Senior, Canton,
Foster set an all-division NCAA record for quarterbacks this season
with 1,844 yards rushing. That total is second on the all-time Georgia
Southern rushing list, behind former Payton Award winner Adrian Peterson,
and is third- best in Southern Conference history. Foster had been Georgia
Southern's starting quarterback and led the Eagles to the playoffs as a
sophomore in 2005, but a new coaching staff switched him to wide receiver
in 2006. When Coach Chris Hatcher came in for the 2007 season, he moved
Foster back to quarterback. Foster finished the regular season ranked
second in FCS with 167.6 rushing yards per game, and was third in scoring
(13.5) and fifth in all-purpose yards (189 yards per game).
Josh Johnson, San Diego, Quarterback, 6-3, 205, Senior, Oakland, Ca.
Johnson capped off an incredible career with 43 touchdown passes and
one interception in his final year. He threw for 2,988 yards and ranked
first in passing efficiency (198.3) and total offense (371.4) as he
completed 206-of-301 passes (68.4%). His average of 298.8 yards per game
ranked fourth in FCS, and he was seventh in the sub-division in passing
yards. But Johnson wasn't just a passer. He also finished the season ranked
68th nationally in rushing (72.6 yards per game) with 726 yards on 101
carries (7.2 per carry) and two TDs. During Johnson's three years as a
starter, San Diego went 31-4, winning two Sports Network Cups as the best
Mid-Major team in FCS.
Eric Sanders, Northern Iowa, Quarterback, 6-1, 190, Senior, Oelwein,
Sanders has established himself as a winner ever since breaking into
the starting line-up as a freshman. Sanders concluded the 2007 regular
season with a 34-8 record as a starter, including an 11-0 mark this year,
and currently owns 12 fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks as a collegian.
Sanders ranked fourth nationally in passing efficiency in '07 and 29th in
total offense (224.1 yards per game), completing 184-of-241 passes (76.3%)
for 2,237 yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. The senior also
helped Northern Iowa complete its first perfect regular season since 1960.
The Walter Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network.
Several previous winners have gone on to outstanding professional careers
in football, including Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Brian Westbrook
(Villanova), Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern), Jerry Azumah (New
Hampshire), Brian Finneran (Villanova), Dave Dickenson (Montana), Steve
McNair (Alcorn State), and Dave Megget (Towson), among a host of others.