CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — An astonishing collegiate career couldn’t have ended much better for Jayson Foster.
The Georgia Southern quarterback won the coveted Walter Payton Award on Thursday evening. The accolade is presented annually to the most outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“By far this is the best part (of my career), my greatest achievement as far as college on an individual level,” Foster said. “Hopefully I’ll live up to it, and I’m very blessed to be here.”
Lauded for his big-play ability, mind-boggling speed and elusiveness, Foster’s culminated a record-breaking GSU career with his return to quarterback this fall, setting the NCAA all-division record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,844). He beat out Northern Iowa quarterback Eric Sanders and San Diego signal caller Josh Johnson for the award.
Foster’s mother, father and grandmother were on hand for ceremony along with first-year Eagle coach Chris Hatcher, who scrapped his signature passing attack to build his offense around Foster.
“I’m excited for Jayson and for Georgia Southern football,” Hatcher said. “To win an honor like this is a great compliment, not only to his individual skills but to all the other guys that suited up this year. It couldn’t have happened to a better person than Jayson Foster.”
Foster joins Chicago Bears running back Adrian Peterson as the only Eagles to win the prestigious honor and is now part of a group of past winners that includes Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair.
“Hopefully I can go out there and follow in their footsteps and be just as successful,” said Foster, who graduated earlier this month. “I feel very honored and blessed to be the recipient of such a prestigious award.”
Foster’s rushing total this fall was good for second behind Peterson on GSU’s all-time list and third in the Southern Conference record books. He finished the season with a school-record 3,047 yards of total offense, shattering the previous mark set by legendary Eagle quarterback and College Football Hall of Famer Tracy Ham. During his remarkable career, Foster had 14 runs of 50 yards or more including 11 for touchdowns.
He said that after a disastrous 2006 season during which he was relegated to receiver and drastically underused, winning the Payton this year was something that never crossed his mind. With Foster at the helm and Hatcher on the sidelines, the Eagles rebounded from a school-worst 3-8 finish last season to a 7-4 record this fall.
“Coming out of last year, we were just thinking about getting a winning season and getting to the playoffs again,” Foster said.
The Payton Award was established by the Sports Network in 1987 and is chosen by a nationwide panel of FCS media and sports information directors.