Southeastern quarterback Cole Kelley wins FCS Stats Perform Walter Payton Award
HAMMOND, La. – The nation's best offensive player resides in Hammond, America, as Southeastern Louisiana senior quarterback Cole Kelley was named the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award winner in an announcement from Stats Perform on Saturday.
Kelley becomes the 34th recipient of the Payton Award, bestowed upon the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision and named for the legendary Chicago Bears running back, who played collegiately at Jackson State.
Kelley is the third Payton Award recipient from the Southland Conference, joining Stephen F. Austin's Jeremy Moses in 2010 and Sam Houston's Jeremiah Briscoe in 2016 and '17. Other notable past recipients of the Heisman of the FCS include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance.
The FCS Awards show will be televised nationally Saturday on Bally Sports (formerly Fox Sports). Check your local listings for availability. In the Hammond area, it will air on Bally Sports New Orleans tonight at 9:30 p.m.
"This is a great honor not just for Cole, but our entire program and our university," Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo said. "Cole's statistics speak for themselves and I'll put his numbers against anybody's in the country. But to understand his real value to our program, you have to go beyond the box score. It's Cole's leadership and command of the locker room, the way he's developed those traits is what has allowed him to develop into such a special player and someone who deserves to win the Walter Payton Award."
Kelley came to Hammond prior after starting his collegiate career at Arkansas. Saturday's announcement was the culmination of a long journey for Kelley.
"It was surreal and I got goosebumps when I heard my name announced," Kelley commented. "I was thinking about how many people helped me get to this point, especially my family and all my coaches. I wouldn't have made it to this point without all the support from (SLU head) Coach (Frank) Scelfo and (SLU offensive coordinator) Coach (Greg) Stevens."
Kelley also was quick to credit his teammates.
"This is really an award our whole offense and whole team can share in," Kelley commented. "I'm just the guy who gets everyone the ball. Our offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends and running backs all deserve a piece of this award."
Kelley will return to close out his collegiate career in the fall, as the 2021 season is just over three months away. Southeastern hosts North Alabama on Sept. 4 at Strawberry Stadium to open the campaign.
"I've been watching the playoffs this spring and feel like we can play with anybody in the country," Kelley said. "We want to win the national championship. Our first step is the Southland Conference championship, but we want to compete on the national stage."
Kelley edged Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere for the honor, finishing with
137 points to 131 for Barriere. Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut was third with 84 points.
Postseason honors have come aplenty for the Teurlings Catholic High School product following the end of a prolific campaign. Last month, Kelley was named the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and earned second team All-Southland Conference accolades.
Earlier this week, Kelley earned All-America honors both from Stats Perform (first team) and the Associated Press (second team). Kelley is the first SLU quarterback to earn All-America honors since Bryan Bennett in 2013.
Kelley leads the nation with 2,662 yards passing and 27 touchdowns responsible for (18 passing, seven rushing and two receiving).
Kelley also ranks among the NCAA leaders in passing efficiency (6th), passing touchdowns (4th), passing yards per game (2nd), rushing touchdowns (11th), total offense (3rd), total touchdowns scored (6th) and yards per pass attempt (6th). He passed for 300 yards or more in all seven games and topped 400 yards on three different occasions.
2020-21 Walter Payton Award Voting Results
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.
1. Cole Kelley, QB, Southeastern Louisiana: 16-8-4-6-1-137
2. Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington: 13-10-5-4-3-131
3. Julius Chestnut, RB, Sacred Heart: 7-4-7-6-0-84
4. Jakob Herres, WR, VMI: 1-4-5-2-4-44
5. Otis Weah, RB, North Dakota: 1-1-5-2-5-33
6. Aqeel Glass, QB, Alabama A&M: 1-1-2-4-7-30
7. Dejoun Lee, RB, Delaware: 0-4-1-1-1-22
8.(tie) Juwon Farri, RB, Monmouth: 0-2-1-2-5-20
8.(tie) Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State: 0-2-1-3-3-20
10. Liam Welch, QB, Samford: 0-1-3-1-4-19
11.(tie) Percy Agyei-Obese, RB, James Madison: 1-0-2-1-1-14
11.(tie) Tyler Hudson, WR, Central Arkansas: 0-1-1-2-3-14
13. Quay Holmes, RB, ETSU: 0-1-2-1-1-13
14. Keith Pearson, WR, Presbyterian: 0-0-0-4-1-9
15. DeAngelo Wilson, WR, Austin Peay: 0-1-1-0-1-8
16. Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham: 0-0-0-1-0-2
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