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Four FCS standouts invited to Walter Payton Award announcement

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - It's a quartet of the best: For the first time, four players were invited Monday to the announcement of the 2019 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, given to the outstanding offensive player in college football's Division I subdivision.

Northern Arizona senior quarterback Case Cookus, Monmouth junior running back Pete Guerriero, North Dakota State redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance and Sacramento State junior quarterback Kevin Thomson finished among the top four vote-getters from the 26 finalists who have been in the running for the Heisman of the FCS level.

The Payton, named for the legendary College and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back and presented since 1987, will be handed out at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas - on the eve of the national championship game. Past recipients include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and last year's recipient, Devlin "Duck" Hodges.

Cookus has been at the national banquet previously, winning the 2015 Jerry Rice Award as the national freshman of the year. This season, he ranks No. 1 in the FCS in passing yards (4,114) and passing yards per game (342.8), throwing for 31 touchdowns against only seven interceptions in 11 games.

Guerriero leads the FCS in rushing yards (1,995) and rushing yards per game (142.5) and is fourth in all-purpose yards per game (166.5). He scored 20 touchdowns in 14 games during the best season in Monmouth history, which included the Hawks' first Big South title and playoff win.

Lance has helped No. 1 North Dakota State to a 13-0 start, most notably throwing for 25 touchdowns without an interception. The Missouri Valley offensive player of the year is No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency (187.5) and No. 3 in completion percentage (68.5), and has 3,185 yards of total offense and 11 touchdown rushes.

Thomson led Sacramento State, the Big Sky co-champ and a first-time playoff qualifier, to the finest season in its FCS history. The conference's offensive player of the year ranks fifth nationally in total offense (319.6 yards per game) and points responsible for (236). He accounted for 39 touchdowns in 12 games.

A national panel of 156 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Payton Award following the regular season. Voters selected a Top 5 on their ballot.

The 2019 Walter Payton Award results for fifth through 26th place:

5. Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington: 19-16-14-8-7-224

6. Chris Rowland, WR, Tennessee State: 7-15-10-11-6-153

7. Jah-Maine Martin, RB, North Carolina A&T: 4-13-7-9-13-124

8. Kenji Bahar, QB, Monmouth: 3-9-8-10-9-104

9. Daniel Smith, QB, Villanova: 4-4-12-7-10-96

10. James Robinson, RB, Illinois State: 2-5-9-11-7-86

11. Reid Sinnett, QB, San Diego: 4-4-7-6-2-71

12. Bailey Zappe, QB, Houston Baptist: 2-2-4-9-5-53

13. Tom Flacco, QB, Towson: 2-5-3-4-2-49

14. Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State: 1-2-4-7-5-44

15. Breylin Smith, QB, Central Arkansas: 1-2-4-4-7-40

16. Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton: 0-1-3-7-9-36

17.(tie) Alex Ramsey, RB, VMI: 1-2-0-4-6-27

17.(tie) Aaron Winchester, QB, Central Connecticut State: 1-1-3-2-5-27

19. Kurt Rawlings, QB, Yale: 0-4-0-2-3-23

20. Zerrick Cooper, QB, Jacksonville State: 1-2-1-2-2-22

21. Ryan Stanley, QB, Florida A&M: 0-3-2-0-2-20

22. Aaron Parker, WR, Rhode Island: 1-1-1-0-5-17

23. Felix Harper, QB, Alcorn State: 1-1-1-1-1-15

24. Jordan Bentley, RB, Alabama A&M: 0-0-2-1-4-12

25. Domenic Cozier, RB, Holy Cross: 1-0-1-1-1-11

26. Julius Chestnut, RB, Sacred Heart: 0-0-0-1-3-5

A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.

Updated December 9, 2019

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