“BigPlayVA” joins 19 others as candidates selected by The Sports Network for the highest award presented in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision
Just 16 games into his Eastern Washington University football career, sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams finds himself in the same breath with the likes of Eagle legends Erik Meyer, Bo Levi Mitchell, Matt Nichols, Taiwan Jones and Jesse Chatman.
On Tuesday (Oct. 1), Adams was added by The Sports Network to the Watch List for the Walter Payton Award, which will be presented for the 27th time to the outstanding player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
In four games thus far, Adams is ranked second in FCS in points responsible for with an average of 26.0 per game (total of 104 with 15 TD passes, two rushing touchdowns and one two-point conversion). He is also third in passing efficiency (189.9), fourth in passing yards (347.5 per game) and second in total offense (394.8). He has completed 64 percent of his passes thus far (81-of-126) for a total of 1,390 yards and four interceptions, and has also rushed for a team-leading 189 yards.
Meyer and Mitchell both won the Payton Award – Meyer in 2005 and Mitchell in 2011 – when both were senior quarterbacks for the Eagles. Nichols (2009), Jones (2010) and Chatman (2001) all finished fourth in the voting for the Payton Award in their final seasons as Eagles.
Adams, however, has made a name for himself in just a short time. A starter in 13 of the 16 games he has played in his career, Adams has a career average of 209.4 passing yards per game to currently rank fifth all-time at EWU. He currently has a career passing efficiency rating of 171.5 (62 percent, 3,351 yards, 35 TD, 12 INT), which ranks as the school record.
This week, he leads the sixth-ranked Eagles (now 2-2) against the very team he played when he burst on the scene a year ago. In an unannounced and surprise start, he made his first career start in EWU’s 32-26 victory at Weber State (9/22/12), and used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead. Adams led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown march on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping.
The top plays and honors by Adams have been encapsulated in a new web site located at www.BigPlayVA.com. Featured are some of the top plays by Adams, including his incredible scramble and touchdown throw against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012, which was one of eight finalists for the GEICO Play of the Year.
His game-winning touchdown run against Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, is also on the site. He had a school-record of 518 yards of total offense in the 49-46 upset over the Beavers in only the fourth-ever win by a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school over a ranked member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The many accolades Adams won as a result of the OSU victory are also featured, as well as an interview on the Jim Rome Show. His complete bio, statistics and information on EWU tickets and the Gateway Project are also prominent.
More About the Payton Award . . .
This year's winner will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Erik Meyer, Bo Levi Mitchell, Steve McNair, John Friesz, Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran and Armanti Edwards.
Besides Adams, running backs Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State and Kyle Harbridge of Saint Francis (Pa.) were added to the Watch List on Oct. 1. Other nominees on the Watch List are quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, Brock Jensen of North Dakota State, Jeff Mathews of Cornell, Gavin McCarney of Colgate, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State, Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern, and Wynrick Smothers of Central Arkansas; running backs Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona, Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State, David Johnson of Northern Iowa, Carlton Koonce of Fordham, Terrance West of Towson and Zach Zenner of South Dakota State; and wide receivers Jordan Harris of Bryant, Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois and Walter Powell of Murray State.
Bios of all 20 players can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yhv6oh8.
Other players considered for the updated Watch List were Lehigh quarterback Brandon Bialkowski and wide receiver Lee Kurfis; Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson; Appalachian State quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson and wide receiver Sean Price; Delaware running back Andrew Pierce; Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro; Fordham quarterback Michael Nebrich; and Southern quarterback Dray Joseph.
The Payton Award Watch List can undergo revision during the season. Ballots will be sent to a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
The Sports Network also presents the Buck Buchanan, Jerry Rice
and Eddie Robinson awards. The Buchanan Award honors the
outstanding defensive player in the FCS, the Rice Award goes to the
FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS
coach of the year. The winners of those three awards also will be
invited to the national banquet.
More on Vernon Adams . . .
* Adams earned a variety of honors after finishing with a school-record 518 yards of total offense in the win over Oregon State, scoring the winning points with a 2-yard run with 18 seconds to play. Most notably, he was Sports Illustrated’s College Football Breakout Performer of the Week and was featured in their Sept. 2 issue and on SI.com. Adams was selected as The Sports Network National Offensive Player of the Week, and was also a College Sporting News All-Star for FCS. CBSSports.com selected him as one its four Players of the Week consisting of players from all classifications of college football, and he was among 20 players selected as Yahoo! Sports College Football Best. He was one of Eight FCS/FBS Nominees for the Manning Award Player of the Week and was nominated for Geico Play of the Year accolades (game-winning 2-yard TD run vs. OSU). Plus, Adams was one of six recipients of Beyond Sports Network FCS Offensive Player of the Week honors and was one of five “Stars of the Week” on the SVP & Russillo Show on ESPN. In addition, Adams was one of four FBS/FCS nominees for Capital One Impact Performer of the Week, and was the College Sports Madness National FCS Offensive Player of the Week and that organization’s Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week. College Football Performance Awards also selected him as its National FCS Performer of the Week, and National FCS Quarterback of the Week. And not surprisingly, Adams won Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the third time in his career.
* Adams and several other Eagles helped at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Spokane this past summer. Adams and Wilson – the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks -- are similar in stature and ability, and will continue to draw comparisons as Adams’ career progresses. Adams, in fact, is now wearing jersey No. 3 for the Eagles – the same number Wilson wears -- after donning No. 16 as a redshirt freshman last season. The switch is unrelated to Wilson -- Adams wore No. 3 in high school and asked for that number after it became available when wide receiver Greg Herd graduated.
* Adams was selected as the Freshman of the Year on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America team in 2012, and was also on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad. Adams was also one of 20 players on the ballot for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS by The Sports Network (he finished sixth in the voting, which occurred prior to the playoffs). Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80), and was the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. His efficiency rating also ranked fourth all-time in school history. In nine games as a starter and three as a sub, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.