The Walter Payton Award is given out to the most outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision. The award has been given out by the Sports Network since 1987 and has included winners such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo and Brian Westbrook.
Last year’s winner, Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion University, completed nearly 400 passes for over 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2012. The quarterback won the award by 247 points. He deserved it as he was far and away the best player in FCS that season.
This year, an interesting dynamic has appeared on the horizon when it comes to the award. Right now, the leaders for the award, in my opinion, are Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois University and Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington University.
Both quarterbacks are near the top in passing stats in the NCAA and are leading two of the top three programs in the country. Adams has the signature victory against an FBS ranked Oregon State University to begin the year while Garoppolo played right with a Heisman candidate in Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois University.
I would like to add one more to the list in North Dakota State University quarterback Brock Jensen. Jensen does not lead the nation in any passing categories nor does he have a game where the stats just jump right off the page.
What Jensen does have over his career is consistency. Jensen has only lost two games as a starter in the past three seasons. He has never lost to a FBS school as a starter and has yet to lose on the road in the last three seasons.
I understand that this award goes to this season’s best player in the FCS, but so does the Heisman and Eric Crouch of the University of Nebraska won it in 2001 due in large part to what he had done over his career with the Cornhuskers.
It makes sense to me that a player like Jensen would receive some consideration from writers around the nation for the award. Do I believe he will? No I don’t but I do think he will surprise a lot of people with where he might end up on the voting list.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.