Winning is its own reward, but Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams and receiver Cooper Kupp have a chance for a little more tonight.
Adams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award – the Football Championship Subdivision equivalent of the Heisman Trophy – while Kupp is in the running for the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in FCS.
The award will be presented at The Sports Network’s FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia. The winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (outstanding defensive player) and Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year) also will be announced.
Because the Eagles are preparing for an FCS semifinal against Towson Saturday, neither Adams nor Kupp will be in attendance. Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves and media relations director Dave Cook will attend the ceremony.
Voting for the awards, conducted by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and dignitaries, is based on the regular season. The Jerry Rice Award is named for the legendary NFL wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State.
Adams, a redshirt sophomore, is 291 for 444 for 4,600 yards, 53 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, leading the Eagles to a 12-2 record and a berth in the FCS semifinals.
The other finalists are Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Terrance West of Towson.
Kupp, a redshirt freshman from Yakima, has 85 catches for 1,567 yards and 21 TDs.
“He took that redshirt year and took his talents to a new level,” added Baldwin. “He has been doing that all his life.”