Congrats Taylor Heinicke - 2012 Walter Payton Award Winner!
Old Dominion's Heinicke captures 2012 Walter Payton Award
7:33 a.m. CST, December 18, 2012
Philadelphia, PA —
The second sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award says his team's season was all about the seniors.
Taylor Heinicke says the seniors were there first when Old Dominion's fourth- year football program was being built to a high level of success.
The Monarchs didn't jump to their highest level, though, until Heinicke became the starting quarterback in the last season and a half, and many other people knew it, including the senior class.
Just as impressed were voters of the 2012 Walter Payton Award, who on Monday night made Heinicke the 26th recipient of the outstanding player honor in the Football Championship Subdivision. He received nearly half of the first-place votes from a national media panel - 72 of 145 - and 531 points to capture the award over Stony Brook senior running back Miguel Maysonet (284 points) and Wofford senior fullback Eric Breitenstein (197).
"People kept working that much harder for the seniors," Heinicke said. "They came here based on a pamphlet and something that could have happened, and it did."
Heinicke didn't have his redshirt lifted as a true freshman until the fifth game of the 2011 season, but he went on to become the runner-up for the Jerry Rice Award, which honors the FCS freshman of the year.
He then soared to greater heights this season. As ODU finished 10-1 in the regular season, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Atlanta led the FCS in passing yards (4,158), total yards (4,535), touchdown passes (35) and points responsible for (24.2 per game). He rushed for 377 yards and eight touchdowns.
Heinicke, a mechanical engineering major, commanded the national spotlight on Sept. 22 when he set Division I single-game records with 730 passing yards and 791 total yards in Old Dominion's 64-61 victory over New Hampshire.
The Monarchs considered themselves the unofficial champion of CAA Football because they posted the best record at 7-1, although they were ineligible for the conference championship because their program will depart for the Bowl Subdivision after this season.
Including ODU's two playoff games, Heinicke finished the season with an FCS- record 5,076 passing yards. He threw for 44 touchdowns, rushed for 11 more and had 5,546 yards of total offense.
"It's huge, very humbling," Heinicke said. "It's the Heisman of the FCS. That's a huge honor, very humbling and I'm very excited about it. I can't thank enough of my family, my coaches, my trainer back home. All this hard work is really paying off."
The first sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award was Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson in 1999.
Maysonet, from Riverhead, N.Y., became the all-time leading rusher at Stony Brook and in the Big South Conference this season. He led the FCS in rushing yards per game during the regular season - 156.5. Add in the conference co- championship squad's two playoff games in a 10-3 season and Maysonet totaled 1,964 rushing yards and 2,316 all-purpose yards, and scored 23 touchdowns.
Breitenstein, from Valle Crucis, N.C., ranked third nationally in rushing yards per game (150.3) during the regular season, including a Southern Conference single-game record 321 yards against Elon on Sept. 29. Wofford won a share of the conference title and went on to play two playoff games, with Breitenstein finishing with 2,035 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. He ended his career as the active leader in the FCS with 5,730 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns.
All three players were feted at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation along with the winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (Montana State's Caleb Schreibeis, FCS outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (Villanova's John Robertson, FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (North Dakota State's Craig Bohl, FCS coach of the year).
The awards are voted upon by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.