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DAVIS, Calif. - A season-long process will reach its conclusion Friday evening in Frisco, Texas, when STATS LLC announces the winner of the Walter Payton Award, an honor presented to the most outstanding FCS offensive player in the nation during its annual awards banquet.
Taking place the night before the national championship game, senior quarterbacks Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State and Chris Streveler of South Dakota will join the junior organizational studies major Keelan Doss as the final three candidates vying for FCS’ version of the Heisman Trophy.
“It shows what you can accomplish when you put in a lot of hard work, and I couldn’t do it without all my teammates. I hope I can use this to help the program expand,” said Doss during a conversation with Davis Enterprise reporter Bruce Gallaudet earlier this week.
“It just adds credence that you can come here and be the kind of football player you want, get the recognition you want and still have the kind of education and environment that this football program will provide,” said UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins in his chat with Gallaudet.
UC Davis is the No. 6 public school in the nation, ranks among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, plant and animal programs.
If Doss is selected, he will become the third wide receiver to win the Walter Payton Award, joining a list comprised by Cooper Kupp and Brian Finneran. Kupp (Eastern Washington) was selected by a national panel of 151 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and college football dignitaries from across the nation in 2015, Finneran (Villanova), received his honor in 1997.
Even though the Payton’s list of award winners is dominated by quarterbacks, Doss’ accomplishments, and awards earned this past season, make him a legitimate and worthy selection for this year’s award.
Throughout the weeks leading up to the FCS Awards Banquet, Doss earned All-America honors from a program-record seven national outlets: Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, STATS FCS, FCS Athletic Directors Association, American Football Coaches Association, HERO Sports, College Sports Madness. Those announcements took place after Big Sky officials selected Doss as its Offensive Player of the Year.
With the type of season the third-year wideout enjoyed, all of those awards, honors and accolades were well deserved. When the Aggies ended their season, Doss led all players at the FBS and FCS levels with 1,499 receiving yards, 136.3 receiving yards per game and 10.5 receptions per game.
In addition to setting new Big Sky-era program records in receiving yards, receptions (115) and 100-yard games (9), he set another two new single-game records when a packed Aggie Stadium watched him catch 15 passes for 208 yards against Eastern Washington.
“This is certainly a feather in UC Davis’ cap that we can have these kinds of people, students and players, here. And I think it is indicative of our football program,” said Hawkins.
Past winners of the Payton Award include Briscoe (2016), Jimmy Garoppolo (2013) and Tony Romo (2002) from Eastern Illinois, Villanova’s Brian Westbrook (2001) and Alcorn State’s Steve McNair (1994).
First presented 30 years ago, the honor is named after National Football League legend Walter Payton, who enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bears. While playing for Jackson State in the early 70s, Payton earned All-America and Player of the Year honors on multiple occasions, rushed for over 3,500 yards and scored more than 450 points.
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The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
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