(Editor's note: Big Sky Conference release)
CHICAGO -- Northern Arizona’s Case Cookus and Sacramento State’s Kevin Thomson are two of the four Walter Payton Award finalists invited to Frisco, Texas for the STATS FCS Banquet Ceremony being held on Friday, January 10 at the Embassy Suites Frisco.
This will be Cookus’ second time to Frisco for the event. The quarterback won the STATS Freshman of the Year honor in 2015. The Northern Arizona senior ranks first in the FCS in passing yards with 4,114 and is the only player to cross the 4k threshold. Cookus’ passing yards total ranks third in the nation when including FBS counterparts. He leads the FCS in yards per game at 342.8, ranks third in the FCS in total offense with 344.4 yards per game and is tied for seventh in passing touchdowns with 31. He’s completed 290 of 481 passes to average 24.17 completions per game for ninth in the FCS. He has nine games with 300 or more passing yards and a season-high 450 yards. Cookus has nine multi-touchdown games and has thrown four touchdowns in a game three times with a season-best five touchdowns. He also has a 20-yard rushing touchdown under his belt.
The Hornets’ Thomson will be making his first appearance in the Lone Star State. The junior was named the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year, after leading Sacramento State to a share of the league’s crown and an FCS Playoff berth – the first in school history. The dual-threat quarterback completed 244 of 397 passes for 2,910 passing yards. He completed 25 touchdown passes and averaged 264.5 yards per game. The quarterback also rushed for 532 yards – second-most on the team – and the led the Hornets with 10 rushing touchdowns.
Eastern Washington junior quarterback Eric Barriere finished fifth in the voting. Barriere finished the regular season first in the FCS in total offense (4,270), second in passing yards per game (313.8), fourth in points responsible for (214), and fourth in passing yards (3,452).
The Walter Payton Award has been presented since 1987. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the winner following the regular season.
A Big Sky player has won the Walter Payton Award eight times – John Friesz, QB, Idaho (1989); Jamie Martin, QB, Weber State (1991), Doug Nussmeier, QB, Idaho (1993), Dave Dickenson, QB, Montana (1995), Archie Amerson, RB, Northern Arizona (1996), Erik Meyer, QB, Eastern Washington (2005), Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Eastern Washington (2011), and Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington (2015).
The 2019 Walter Payton Award results for fifth through 26th place:
5. Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington: 19-16-14-8-7-224
6. Chris Rowland, WR, Tennessee State: 7-15-10-11-6-153
7. Jah-Maine Martin, RB, North Carolina A&T: 4-13-7-9-13-124
8. Kenji Bahar, QB, Monmouth: 3-9-8-10-9-104
9. Daniel Smith, QB, Villanova: 4-4-12-7-10-96
10. James Robinson, RB, Illinois State: 2-5-9-11-7-86
11. Reid Sinnett, QB, San Diego: 4-4-7-6-2-71
12. Bailey Zappe, QB, Houston Baptist: 2-2-4-9-5-53
13. Tom Flacco, QB, Towson: 2-5-3-4-2-49
14. Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State: 1-2-4-7-5-44
15. Breylin Smith, QB, Central Arkansas: 1-2-4-4-7-40
16. Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton: 0-1-3-7-9-36
17.(tie) Alex Ramsey, RB, VMI: 1-2-0-4-6-27
17.(tie) Aaron Winchester, QB, Central Connecticut State: 1-1-3-2-5-27
19. Kurt Rawlings, QB, Yale: 0-4-0-2-3-23
20. Zerrick Cooper, QB, Jacksonville State: 1-2-1-2-2-22
21. Ryan Stanley, QB, Florida A&M: 0-3-2-0-2-20
22. Aaron Parker, WR, Rhode Island: 1-1-1-0-5-17
23. Felix Harper, QB, Alcorn State: 1-1-1-1-1-15
24. Jordan Bentley, RB, Alabama A&M: 0-0-2-1-4-12
25. Domenic Cozier, RB, Holy Cross: 1-0-1-1-1-11
26. Julius Chestnut, RB, Sacred Heart: 0-0-0-1-3-5
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.