Freshman quarterback Cameron Ward of the University of the Incarnate Word football team was named the recipient of the 2021 Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the national freshman player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision, announced the association Monday.
“I couldn’t be happier for Cam winning the Jerry Rice Award. There is no freshman more deserving,” said head coach Eric Morris. “To come from running the option in high school to learning our offense, winning the starting job and doing what he did this season, I don’t think there’s any question [he deserves it].
“He’s grown a lot this season as both a quarterback and a man. Cam wants to be great, and he wants our team to be great. I’m excited to get back to work and see what we can do come fall.”
The 6-3, 225-pound standout from West Columbia, Texas, needed only six games to set UIW’s record for touchdown passes in a season with 24. Ward, recently named the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, also set the Cardinals’ single-game record for touchdowns and then matched it with six scoring passes in back-to-back outings against nationally ranked opponents Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls.
Ward’s 24 touchdown passes led the FCS during the regular season. He also ranked second nationally in passing yards (2,260), completions (183) and total touchdowns (26 with two rushing), and third in pass attempts (303) and passing yards per game (376.7). Ward surpassed 300 passing yards in every game and was intercepted only four times, leading to a 146.5 pass efficiency, another Cardinals’ single-season record.
UIW was nationally ranked for six straight weeks, achieving a program-best No. 13 ranking midseason.
A 40-member national media panel voted for the Rice Award following the unprecedented regular season, which spanned the fall and spring semesters. Ward received 19 first place votes on the ballot, 32 points ahead of South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski who was second in the voting.
Named after the legendary Hall of Fame wide receiver, the Rice Award is celebrating its 10th anniversary season. Ward, selected from 16 finalists, will be honored on an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks (formerly Fox Sports Regional Networks) on Saturday, May 15.