December 5, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 33

Eagles' Vernon Adams is finalist for Walter Payton Award

Eastern Washington University quarterback Vernon Adams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in FCS football, The Sports Network announced Dec. 3.

Adams, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois and running back Terrance West of Towson have been invited to the announcement of the 27th Walter Payton Award, bestowed on the outstanding player in the FCS and considered the Heisman Trophy of the former Division I-AA level.

The winner will be announced at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia. The winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) also will be feted that night.

Adams' season of leading the Eastern Washington offense has been breathtaking ever since he racked up 518 total yards and six total touchdowns in a season- opening win at nationally ranked Oregon State. The 6-foot, 190-pound redshirt sophomore from Pasadena, Calif., went on to become the offensive player of the year in the Big Sky.

Adams threw for six touchdowns against rival Montana, with three other games of five touchdowns, and he finished EWU's 10-2 regular season with 4,059 passing yards and a conference-record 46 touchdown passes. With another 491 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, he led the FCS in total offensive yards per game (379.2) as well as pass efficiency rating (185.7).

EWU's rich tradition of quarterbacks feature Walter Payton Award winners in Erik Meyer and Bo Levi Mitchell, and a former finalist, Matt Nichols.

"Vernon's season this year is the best I've seen since I've been a college football coach," Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin said.

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