Villanova quarterback John Robertson made himself and his school stand above the rest Monday night when he won the Walter Payton Award, the Heisman Trophy for Football Championship Subdivision schools.
"My heart is about to beat out of my chest," Robertson said after the presentation during the Sports Network FCS Awards banquet at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel.
Villanova became the first school with three Payton Award winners since its inception in 1987. Wildcats receiver Brian Finneran won it in 1997 and running back Brian Westbrook won it in 2001.
"We are the only program in the country to have three Walter Payton Award winners, which is really cool," Robertson said. "It's a credit to my whole team, helping me out."
Robertson beat out two other quarterbacks who were finalists, Eastern Washington's Vernon Adams Jr. and Idaho State's Justin Arias.
The award came two days after Robertson was unable to play in a 34-31 FCS quarterfinal loss to visiting Sam Houston State. He had a concussion.
Robertson said he was heartened by the play of his backup, Chris Polony. Polony completed 13 of 24 passes for 228 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
"Watching on the sidelines was tough, but watching Chris do well made it easier for me," Robertson said. "I don't know if I would have been able to do as well as him. He did a great job."
Robertson said he is still not 100 percent but is "getting better every day."
During his redshirt freshman season, he suffered a concussion against James Madison but returned the next week against Delaware. He said this time he just didn't feel right to return.
Robertson threw for 2,846 yards with 35 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. He rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns. He said he was gratified by his teammates' response after they learned he wouldn't play.
"My whole team said that this is your health, we don't want you out there to put your brain in jeopardy," said Robertson, who won the Jerry Rice Award as FCS freshman of the year in 2012. "So I really had a lot of support from my teammates, which was amazing."
Villanova linebacker Don Cherry finished second to North Dakota defensive end Kyle Emanuel in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented to the top defensive player in FCS. Cherry had 82 tackles, 211/2 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.