The three finalists for the Walter Payton Award were announced Tuesday and to no surprise Jimmy Garoppolo and Vernon Adams were two of the finalists, Towson running back Terrance West was selected as a third but we found out how close NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen was to be selected as a finalist. It should be noted that the last nine years a quarterback has won this award.
VERNON ADAMS – EASTERN WASHINGTON
- The numbers for EWU’s signal caller are gaudy, 4,059 passing yards and 46 touchdowns, a new Big Sky conference record. Adams ran for nearly 500 yards and added four scores, and led the FCS in total offensive yards per game. Adams is another in a long list of great EWU quarterbacks, just two years ago Bo Levi Mitchell won the award, Adams came in last year against Sam Houston in the FCS semis and nearly led a miracle comeback, he has a large spotlight on him starting Saturday against SDSU.
JIMMY GAROPPOLO – EASTERN ILLINOIS
- Garoppolo has been on my radar since early last season and he’s done even more in 2013. EIU’s signal caller started off the season with a bang as his team beat San Diego State, he followed that up with 6 TDs against Illinois State and still unbeaten Northern Illinois. He’s thrown for nearly 4500 yards in 12 games, and will win this award, joining Tony Romo, another EIU grad to win the Payton back in 2002. His NFL stock will rise or fall with this year’s playoffs, his team is on trial starting Saturday, EIU was blasted by South Dakota State in the 1st round last year, its trial begins against a conference foe in Tennessee State, it would be good for the FCS for Garoppolo and his team to make some noise.
BROCK JENSEN – NDSU
- Much has been made about Jensen’s numbers heading into 2013, but the four year starter is going to leave Fargo as the school’s most prolific passer and perhaps its most decorated winner. His game from 2012 to now is an absolute 180, Jensen was timid in the playoffs last year, being asked to not lose a game after a string of pick 6’s. Now he’s become a true quarterback with an aerial attack to boot, his combination with Zach Vraa has led Vraa to set a new school record in touchdown receptions, while Jensen has set the school record for touchdown throws. He’s still as dangerous as ever with his feet, this stat is tremendous, he leads NDSU with 12 rushing first downs in third down situations. His status as a winner will never be questioned thanks to his 44 wins, now the all-time leader in FCS history and his legacy was cemented going 7 of 7 on the final drive at K-State. People will say that Jensen is a system quarterback, but whatever that system is plenty of teams should want it; Jensen may not get the chatter of being in the elite quarterbacks in FCS, but his numbers say otherwise.