Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, The Sports Network announced Tuesday.
Adams, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois and running back Terrance West of Towson have been invited to the awards banquet, which will be held in Philadelphia on Dec. 16.
The winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) also will be honored that night.
Adams, bidding to be the third Eagle to win the award following quarterbacks Erik Meyer in 2005 and Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011.
“Vernon's season this year is the best I’ve seen since I've been a college football coach,” Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said.
Adams finished Eastern’s 10-2 regular season with 4,059 passing yards and a conference-record 46 touchdown passes. With another 491 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, he led the FCS in total offensive yards per game (379.2) as well as pass efficiency rating (185.7).
Last week, Adams was named the Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Sky Conference.
Garoppolo, a senior for No. 2 EIU, leads the FCS in passing yards (4,489), passing yards per game (374.1) and touchdown passes (48). He hopes to be the first Panther to win the award since Tony Romo in 2002.
West, a junior for seixth-ranked Towson, led the FCS in scoring and rushing yards (with 1,875) during the regular season. He averaged 6.2 yards on 301 carries, topping the 100-yard mark 10 times for a 10-2 squad.