Southeastern’s Cole Kelley 1 of 3 Payton Award Finalists invited to Jan. 7 FCS National Awards Banquet

Published 1:54 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Southeastern Louisiana University senior quarterback Cole Kelley is one of three student-athletes invited to the presentation of the Stats Perform Walter Payton Award at the FCS National Awards Banquet on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas on the eve of the FCS national championship game.

Kelley, Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere and ETSU running back Quay Holmes were the top three vote-getters for the award, given to the top offensive player in FCS, by a 50-member national media panel at the end of the regular season and received invitations to the banquet. A broadcast of the award ceremony will begin airing the next day on Jan. 8. on the Bally Sports Regional Networks.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Cole, who has been not only an outstanding player, but a great leader on and off the field for our team,” Southeastern head coach Coach Scelfo said. “Cole’s success in the spring and fall is evidence that Southeastern Louisiana University provides the opportunity to gain recognition and notoriety on a national level. Cole’s living proof that our program gives student-athletes the ability to maximize their potential as both a player and a person.”

Kelley, who won the 2020 Walter Payton Award in the spring, and Barriere finished 1-2 in the previous season’s voting. Kelley is vying to become the third back-to-back winner of the Heisman Trophy of the FCS in the award’s 35-year history, joining Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State (2016-17) and Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State (2008-09).

“I’ve been blessed to be in this position and first and foremost, to be surrounded by such great coaches and teammates,” Kelley commented. “I said in the spring that the Payton Award was a team award and to be up for it again is just a testament of how successful our entire offense was with Coach (offensive coordinator Greg) Stevens and Coach Scelfo leading the way. Southeastern and Hammond, America have given a lot to me, so it means a lot to be able to pay back the program by helping put the Lions in the national spotlight.”

After taking the top award in his first season as a starter in Hammond, Kelley posted one of the finest statistical seasons in the history of the FCS this fall. The Lafayette, Louisiana native threw for 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns on 406-for-552 passing (73.6 completion percentage), while also rushing for a team-high 491 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Kelley led FCS in passing yards, total offense, completion percentage and points responsible for, as his 60 total touchdowns (44 passing, 16 rushing) were one off the single-season FCS record set by Willie Totten in 1984.  The Southland Conference Player of the Year’s single-season totals for passing yards (2nd), total offense (5,615 yards, 3rd) and passing touchdowns (10th) were all among the best performances in the history of FCS football.

Kelley’s 72.1 career completion percentage (685-for-950) during his time at Southeastern is a new FCS standard (minimum 750 pass attempts). In 33 games donning the green and gold, Kelley set new program career records with 8,602 passing yards, 9,339 yards of total offense, 70 passing touchdowns, 33 rushing touchdowns and 105 touchdowns responsible for (70 passing, 33 rushing, two receiving).

Barriere, a senior from Inglewood, California, threw for 5,070 yards and 46 touchdown passes on 361-for-552 passing (65.4 percent), while also rushing for four touchdowns and 222 yards on the way to being named Big Sky Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season.

Holmes, who hails from Powder Springs, Georgia, has rushed for 1,518 yards and 17 touchdowns, while also hauling in 27 receptions for 299 yards and three scores. The Southern Conference Player of the Year leads FCS with 126.5 rushing yards and 151.4 scrimmage yards per game.

Past Walter Payton Award recipients include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance. Also at the national banquet, Stats Perform will present the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

2021 Walter Payton Award Voting Results (Top Three Finalists: Cole Kelley, QB, SLU; Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington; Quay Holmes, RB, ETSU)
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.

1. TBA

2. TBA

3. TBA

4. Cole Johnson, QB, James Madison: 4-6-9-5-5=86
5. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State: 1-3-7-4-8=54

6. Cameron Ward, QB, UIW: 0-2-3-4-2=28

7 (tie). Xavier Gipson, WR, Stephen F. Austin: 0-1-2-3-5=21

7 (tie). Isaiah Ifanse, RB, Montana State: 0-3-0-3-3=21

9. Aqeel Glass, QB, Alabama State: 1-2-0-0-2=15

10 (tie). Trevor Penning, LT, Northern Iowa: 0-1-1-1-1=10

10 (tie). Jason Shelley, QB, Missouri State: 0-0-2-0-4=10

12 (tie). Keon Howard, QB, UT Martin: 0-0-1-1-3=8

12 (tie). Eric Schmid, QB, Sam Houston: 0-0-1-1-3=8

14 (tie). BJ Byrd, WR, Morehead State: 0-1-0-1-1=7

14 (tie). Xavier Shepherd, QB, Kennesaw State: 0-0-0-2-3=7

14 (tie). Liam Welch, QB, Samford: 0-0-1-2-0=7

17 (tie). Juwan Carter, QB, Norfolk State: 0-0-0-1-1=3

17 (tie). Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham: 0-0-1-0-0=3

19. Jake Chisholm, RB, Dayton: 0-0-0-1-0=2

20 (tie). Dai’Jean Dixon, WR, Nicholls: 0-0-0-0-1=1

20 (tie). Malik Grant, RB, Sacred Heart: 0-0-0-0-1=1

20 (tie). E.J. Perry, QB, Brown: 0-0-0-0-1=1

23 (tie). Davis Cheek, QB, Elon: 0-0-0-0-0=0

23 (tie). Geno Hess, RB, Southeast Missouri: 0-0-0-0-0=0

23 (tie). Tyler Hudson, WR, Central Arkansas: 0-0-0-0-0=0

All-Time Walter Payton Award Winners

2020: Cole Kelley, QB, Southeastern

2019: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

2018: Devlin Hodges, QB, Samford

2017: Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State

2016: Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State

2015: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

2014: John Robertson, QB, Villanova

2013: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

2012: Taylor Heineke, QB, Old Dominion

2011: Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Eastern Washington

2010: Jeremy Moses, QB, Stephen F. Austin

2009: Armanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State

2008: Armanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State

2007: Jayson Foster, QB, Georgia Southern

2006: Ricky Santos, QB, New Hampshire

2005: Erik Meyer, QB, Eastern Washington

2004: Lang Campbell, QB, William & Mary

2003: Jamaal Branch, RB, Colgate

2002: Tony Romo, QB, Eastern Illinois

2001: Brian Westbrook, RB, Villanova

2000: Louis Ivory, RB, Furman

1999: Adrian Peterson, RB, Georgia Southern

1998: Jerry Azumah, RB, New Hampshire

1997: Brian Finneran, WR, Villanova

1996: Archie Amerson, RB, Northern Arizona

1995: Dave Dickenson, QB, Montana

1994: Steve McNair, QB, Alcorn State

1993: Doug Nussmeir, QB, Idaho State

1992: Michael Payton, QB, Marshall

1991: Jamie Martin, QB, Weber State

1990: Walter Dean, RB, Grambling

1989: John Friesz, QB, Idaho

1988: Dave Meggett, RB, Towson State

1987: Kenny Gamble, RB, Colgate

For ticket information, contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit Southeastern will continue offering mobile ticketing as the primary source for securing tickets for the 2021-22 season. All tickets will be available via e-mail or text message in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

For more information on Southeastern Football, follow @LionUpFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.


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