FCS Awards to be handed out at national banquet
FRISCO, Texas (STATS) - A night honoring the best of the best in the FCS will culminate with the announcement of the national players of the year.
A gala crowd is expected Friday night for the STATS FCS Banquet and Presentation at the Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco Hotel, Convention Center & Spa, where the top three vote-getters for FCS Offensive Player of the Year - running backs Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State and Kade Harrington of Lamar and Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp - and the top three in votes for FCS Defensive Player of the Year - ends James Cowser of Southern Utah and Tyrone Holmes of Montana and Portland State free safety Patrick Onwuasor - will be on hand for the unveiling of the division's two major awards.
FCS Freshman of the Year Case Cookus of Northern Arizona, FCS Coach of the Year Bruce Barnum of Portland State and Jacksonville State's Dalton Screws, the inaugural Doris & Eddie Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year, will be feted with their previously announced awards. Jacksonville State is playing North Dakota State in the FCS championship game Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
Harrington, the Southland Conference's player of the year, ranks first in the FCS in rushing yards (2,092), rushing yards per game (190.2), all-purpose yards per game (213.4) and points per game (12.5).
Coprich, the Missouri Valley Football Conference's two-time offensive player of the year, is second in rushing yards (1,967) and rushing yards per game (151.3) and third in points per game (11.2), having helped Illinois State to a share of the conference title.
Kupp was named a first-team All-American for the third straight season and earned the Big Sky Conference's offensive player of the year after leading the FCS in receptions (114), receptions per game (10.4), receiving yards (1,642), receiving yards per game (149.3) and touchdown receptions (19).
The Big Sky triumvirate of Cowser, Holmes and Onwuasor was just as dominating on the defensive side of the ball. Cowser, the conference's defensive player of the year, helped Southern Utah claim its first Big Sky title and had 19 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, which propelled him to becoming the FCS' all-time leader with 80 tackles for loss and 43 1/2 sacks.
Holmes collected the FCS season high with 18 sacks - four more than any other player - while adding 21 1/2 tackles for loss and 87 tackles in his outstanding season at Montana.
Onwuasor also is an FCS leader with nine interceptions, collecting 157 yards in returns on his takeaways. He totaled 85 tackles while helping Portland State improve by six wins from a year ago.
Cookus set an FCS record for freshman quarterbacks by passing for 37 touchdowns. He ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency (184.9) and third in completion percentage (68.9), racking up 3,111 passing yards.
Barnum turned around Portland State from a 3-9 finish in 2014 to a 9-3 record in 2015. The Vikings qualified for the playoffs for the second time in program history, earned a No. 5 ranking, beat five Top 25 teams and defeated two FBS opponents, eventual Sun Bowl champion Washington State as well as North Texas 66-7 for the largest win by an FCS school over an FBS opponent.
Screws is a starting wide receiver and team captain for a Jacksonville State squad that has been ranked No. 1 for much of the season and will try to win the FCS title for the first time. He has caught 33 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt junior has a 3.99 grade point average, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. A recipient of the Ohio Valley Conference Academic Medal of Honor, he has served on mission trips over the last six summers.
Scheduled to present the FCS awards are former Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Grambling State great Doug Williams (Offensive), former Pro Bowl linebacker Dexter Coakley from Appalachian State (Defensive), former Appalachian State national championship-winning coach Jerry Moore (Coach), Northern Arizona coach Jerome Souers (Freshman) and Eddie Robinson III, grandson of legendary coach Eddie Robinson and Doris Robinson.
A national panel of 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selected STATS FCS awards between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.