Southeastern Louisiana senior quarterback Cole Kelley received an invite to the announcement of the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award, the organization announced Wednesday.
Kelley will be joined by Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere and Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut, who topped the list of 16 finalists for the FCS’ most outstanding offensive player.
Named for the Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer and in its 34th year, the winner will be announced on an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks (formerly Fox Sports Regional Networks) on Saturday, May 15 – the eve of the national championship game.
Kelley garnered Southland Conference Spring Offensive Player of the Year recognition following an electric year under center for the Lions in which he threw for more than 300 yards in all seven games. The FCS’ leading passer (2,662) and scorer (164) ranked fourth in completion percentage (68.9) and total offense per game (386.9), and he tied for second leaguewide with seven rushing touchdowns.
The SLU signal-caller picked up his second career Stats Perform FCS National Offensive Player of the Week honor on April 20 after capping the spring season with 418 passing yards and five total touchdowns in the Lions’ 55-48 shootout loss at No. 17 Southern Illinois. Kelley completed 34 of 42 (81 percent) passes for two touchdowns, while also rushing for three scores.
Kelley racked up 462 yards and four touchdowns – both season highs – in a season-opening loss to Sam Houston. He also tossed four touchdown passes in a win over River Bell Classic rival Nicholls, in addition to hauling in his second touchdown pass of the season against the Colonels.