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Eastern Illinois' Garoppolo wins Walter Payton Award

Eastern Illinois senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is the winner of FCS football's top prize.

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. (Stephen Haas/AP)
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. (Stephen Haas/AP)Read more

ON SATURDAY, the Heisman Trophy ceremony was held in New York.

Last night at the Sheraton Society Hill, Hatboro-based The Sports Network handed out the FCS equivalent, named after Jackson State great Walter Payton, at its 27th annual awards dinner. His son Jarrett was there to honor the winner, Eastern Illinois senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished 130 points ahead of Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams. The other finalist was Towson running back Terrance West.

In 2002, an EIU QB named Tony Romo won this award, narrowly beating out Villanova's Brett Gordon.

Garoppolo led FCS in passing yards (4,489) and touchdowns (48) for the team that was ranked second at the end of the regular season.

"Jimmy had has had the best season from a college quarterback that I have ever seen, with the exception of maybe Robert Griffin when he won the Heisman," said EIU coach Dino Babers, who was an assistant at Baylor in 2011.

North Dakota State's Craig Bohl, who will leave for the head-coaching job at Wyoming after trying to win a third straight FCS national title, repeated as Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. He becomes only the second coach to win twice, joining James Madison's Mickey Matthews (1999, 2008). Bohl couldn't make it, but 1994 winner Jim Tressel (Youngstown State) was there for the presentation.

The Jerry Rice Award for Freshman of the Year went to Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp, who won by the biggest margin in its 3-year history. Last year, Villanova QB John Robertson was the recipient. Kupp set freshman records with 1,378 yards and 18 TDs.

The Buck Buchanan Award for outstanding defensive player was given to senior Brad Daly, who became the second straight Montana State end to win.