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Adams awaits Payton verdict

Eagles QB one of three finalists

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. can’t wait to get back to work, especially after his Eagles were eliminated Saturday from the FCS playoffs.

“The offseason is right around the corner, we’re going to work our butts off and work for Oregon next year,” Adams said after Eastern’s 59-46 loss to Illinois State. EWU opens at Eugene next season.

In the meantime, Adams and coach Beau Baldwin will savor the moment. Sunday they flew to Philadelphia, site of tonight’s FCS Awards banquet, where for the second time Adams is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.

Adams, the runner-up last year behind Jimmy Garappolo of Eastern Illinois, is one of three quarterbacks in contention for the Payton, which is emblematic of the top player in FCS. The others are Justin Arias of Idaho State and John Robertson of Villanova.

The winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year) also will be honored tonight.

Previously, Eastern’s Bo Levi Mitchell (2011) and Erik Meyer (2005) have won the Payton Award, and J.C. Sherritt (2010) and Greg Peach (2008) have won the Buchanan Award. Mitchell and Sherritt were part of the Eagles’ national championship team in 2010.

“My goal is to win a national championship. If the Walter Payton comes along, then it comes along. I tell guys all the time, that’s a team award,” said Adams, who finished the year with 251 completions out of 380 passes (66.1 percent ) for 3,483 yards, 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Adams also led the Eagles to an 11-3 record, their third straight Big Sky Conference title and another spot in the postseason.

A broken foot suffered Oct. 4 kept him out of four games, but didn’t keep voters on a national panel from making him as a finalist again. Voting was conducted the week of Nov. 24 at the end of the regular season.

Adams, the Big Sky’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, threw for 30 in only eight regular-season games, and he would have led the FCS in total offense per game (391.5 yards) if he had played one more game to qualify for the NCAA statistics.

Arias was the official NCAA leader in touchdown passes (38) and passing yards per game (339.7). Idaho State finished its season 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference, just missing a berth in the FCS playoffs.

Robertson led Villanova to a 10-2 record and No. 6 seed in the FCS playoffs, but missed Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Sam Houston State with a concussion. Villanova lost, 34-31.

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