NC A&T and Elon have put together the two best seasons among state schools playing FCS football this season, with the undefeated Aggies earning a Celebration Bowl bid as MEAC championships and the Phoenix earning its second ever berth into the postseason playoff.
That team success has led to several players from each team earning recognition as finalists for major individual awards.
The A&T duo of senior offensive tackle Brandon Parker and junior quarterback Lamar Raynard are among those named as candidates for the Walter Payton Award, symbolic of the Offensive Player of the Year in FCS football.
Also among that list is senior running back Detrez Newsome of Western Carolina.
Elon linebacker Warren Messer, who Tuesday was selected to the all-Colonial Athletic Association first team, is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS Defensive Player of the Year.
Among those named as candidates for the Jerry Rice Award as the division’s Freshman of the Year are Elon quarterback Davis Cheek, A&T cornerback Franklin “Mac” McCain and Campbell quarterback Daniel Smith.
A&T’s Rod Broadway and Elon’s Curt Cignetti were also selected as finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS national Coach of the Year.
All four awards will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game. The voting panel consists of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. Voting is based on the regular season.