NEW YORK (Sports Network) -
Furman tailback Louis Ivory was named the
14th winner of the Walter Payton Award today at the FCS College Football Awards held at the Downtown Athletic Club's Heisman
Room in New York City.
The junior rushed for a FCS-best 2,079 yards during the regular season
for the Paladins, leading Furman to a 9-2 record and second-place finish
in the Southern Conference. Ivory, who also scored 16 touchdowns on the
year, accumulated his yardage on just 286 carries, for an amazing
average of 7.3 yards per attempt. In leading Furman to its second
consecutive trip to the FCS playoffs, Ivory became the first running
back in the 80-year history of the Southern Conference to amass more
than 2,000 yards in a season.
Said Furman coach Bobby Johnson: "For Louis Ivory to be recognized as
the top offensive player in the country and have his name placed on a
trophy named for the greatest running back of all time, Walter Payton,
is the thrill of a lifetime, I'm sure, but it's an honor that he has
earned through a lot of hard work, preparation, and execution. Louis
has had a fine career at Furman, and his remarkable season was a major
factor in our team's success this fall. Everybody associated with our
football program is very happy for Louis and pleased with the fact that
voters around the country recognized his consistent excellence this
Ivory is the second consecutive underclassman to win the honor as well
as the second straight Southern Conference back. Georgia Southern
fullback Adrian Peterson, who finished second in the balloting for this
year's award, won the honor as a sophomore in 1999. Ivory's selection as
the Payton Award winner also makes him the third consecutive running
back to win the award, following Peterson and 1998 winner Jerry Azumah
of New Hampshire.
Ivory's incredible 2000 season was highlighted by five 200-yard games,
including a Southern Conference-record 301-yard outburst in a 45-10 win
over defending national champion Georgia Southern on November 4th. The
Fort Valley, GA native also posted a 232-yard game against William &
Mary and 227 yards against East Tennessee State. Ivory ended his
record-setting campaign with 172 yards in a 31-24 loss to Hofstra in the
first round of the FCS playoffs on Nov. 25.
Ivory is just the third underclassmen to win the award, joining Peterson
and former Weber State and current Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback
Jamie Martin, who won as a junior in 1991. Ivory is the seventh running
back to win the Payton Award and the third player from the Southern
Ivory received 37 first-place votes and 303 points from the panel of 90
FCS sports information directors and selected media. Following Ivory in
the voting were Georgia Southern's Peterson, who finished in the top
three of the voting for the third consecutive year, and Villanova
tailback Brian Westbrook. Peterson and Westbrook were also in attendance
at the Downtown Athletic Club, the first time the top three vote-getters
have been invited to the event.
The Walter Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network.