The Jerry Rice award is given to the best rookie player in FCS annually, as voted on by a media panel for The Sports Network.
The Sports Network organization is responsible for administering the post-season awards given to players and coaches in the FCS subdivision. The awards include the Walter Payton Award, given to the best offensive player, the Buck Buchanan Award for the best defensive player, and the Eddie Robinson Award that recognizes the best coach in the subdivision. Last year, they introduced the Jerry Rice Award, which recognizes the best freshman (or redshirt freshman) performance each season.
Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas was in the mix for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, but finished only 9th in the award voting as Towson running back Terrance West took home the trophy. This season, however, Villanova's John Robertson is again in the mix for the award, which will be given tonight at the Sheraton Society Hill, in Philadelphia.
Robertson ignited the Wildcats' offense, starting in the second half of the season-opener against Temple, and helped carry them to an 8-4 record, a share of the CAA Football championship, and a trip to the playoffs. In rushing for 1,021 yards this season, he became only the fifth Wildcat to break the 1,000 yard mark (his teammate Kevin Monangai was the fourth) and was the first quarterback to do it on the Main Line. He also ran for 14 touchdowns and passed for 14 more, completing 152 of 253 passes for 1,965 yards.
Robertson was a true offensive weapon this season for the Wildcats and will definitely be a strong contender for tonight's award.
Andy Talley was also one of the 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson award this season, but will be presenting the award tonight at the event. Former Wildcat receiver Brian Finneran will also be presenting an award, announcing the winner of the 2012 Walter Payton Award, a trophy that he won in 1997. Finneran remains the only wide receiver to be given the Payton Award.
The 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award:
- Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington, Quarterback, 6-0, 180
- Zak Browning, Southern Utah, Linebacker, 5-11, 215
- Terrick Colston, Delaware State, Safety, 6-1, 180
- James Cowser, Southern Utah, Defensive End, 6-4, 244
- Luke Hagy, Cornell, Running Back, 6-0, 186
- Reese Hannon, Furman, Quarterback, 6-2, 201
- Jacob Huesman, Chattanooga, Quarterback, 6-1, 190
- Jake Hutson, Valparaiso, Running Back, 5-6, 180
- Jameer Jackson, North Dakota, Wide Receiver, 6-3, 233
- Sawyer Kollmorgen, Northern Iowa, Quarterback, 6-2, 215
- T.J. Lally, South Dakota State, Linebacker, 6-0, 225
- Scott Lathrop, Southeast Missouri State, Quarterback, 5-10, 175
- Kieran McDonagh, Portland State, Quarterback, 6-1, 240
- Sean Price, Appalachian State, Wide Receiver, 6-5, 210
- J.J. Raffelson, Western Illinois, Linebacker, 6-3, 235
- Luke Rhodes, William & Mary, Linebacker, 6-2, 230
- Elandon Roberts, Morgan State, Linebacker, 6-1, 225
- John Robertson, Villanova, Quarterback, 6-1, 200
- Jeff Williams, Delaware, Linebacker, 6-2, 210
- Josh Woodrum, Liberty, Quarterback, 6-3, 210