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EWU quarterback Mitchell named Payton finalist

Eastern Washington University’s senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was named Thursday as one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award that is given annually to the top player in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision.

Mitchell, a senior from Katy, Texas, threw for an FCS-high and school-record 4,009 yards and 33 touchdowns this fall for an Eastern team that finished 6-5 after opening the year with four straight losses.

He will join fellow finalists Lehigh quarterback Chris Lum and Indiana State running back Shakir Bell at the FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas, where The Sports Network will present the 25th Payton Award on Jan. 6, the night before the NCAA Division I championship game at Pizza Hut Park.

As a junior, Mitchell was named the Most Outstanding Performer in the 2010 title game after leading Eastern to a 20-19 comeback win over Delaware. He was honored earlier this fall as the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year, despite the Eagles’ injury-ravaged season and so-so record.

“It’s such an honor to even be considered for this national award,” Mitchell said in a statement released by EWU’s sports information department.

“But, really, in my eyes it’s a team award, because not only does it express what our offense has done this year, but it will help promote our program nationally. … That’s what is most important to me.”

During his record-setting senior year, Mitchell became the fourth Big Sky quarterback to throw for 4,000 or more yards in 11 games, and the other three – Montana’s Dave Dickenson, Weber State’s Jamie Martin and Idaho’s John Friesz – all went on to win the Payton Award.

“I will be honored, win or lose, because either one of the other two (finalists) are just as talented and deserving,” Mitchell said.

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