Big Sky Conference

Big Sky quartet named to Walter Payton Award Watch List  

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OGDEN, Utah (August 1, 2018) – Four Big Sky football players have been named to the 2018 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List, announced today by the organization.

A trio of Big Sky quarterbacks in Eastern Washington’s Gage Gubrud, Northern Arizona’s Case Cookus and UC Davis’ Jake Maier were selected to the list. Aggie wide receiver Keelan Doss rounds out the Big Sky quartet.

The Big Sky has had eight players win the Walter Payton Award in league history. Six quarterbacks, one running back and one wide receiver make up the Big Sky’s resume by position. The most recent award winner was Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp in 2015 – who currently plays for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League.

Gubrud finished third in voting in 2016 for the Walter Payton Award. Last season, the McMinnville. Ore. product was second in the FCS in total offense per game (357.8), and was fourth in passing yards per game (334.2), third in FCS in points responsible for per game (19.4), and fourth in completions per game (26.1).

Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus/by Jason Bacaj

Cookus, a junior for the Lumberjacks, finished fifth in the Walter Payton Award voting in 2015 as a freshman. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native enters the 2018 season with over 7,700 career passing yards, after registering 3,413 yards and 22 touchdowns a year ago.

Maier started all 11 games for the Aggies as a sophomore transfer. He finished with 306 completions in 446 attempts for 3,669 yards and 26 touchdowns. The La Habra, Calif. native led the conference in efficiency (152.5), and second in passing average per game (333.5) and total offense yards per game (331.6).

UC Davis junior wide receiver Keelan Doss/ by Wayne Tilcock, Davis athletics

Doss, the latest Big Sky player to finish in the top three in the Walter Payton Award voting, had a standout year in 2017. The Alameda, Calif. native finished third in voting as led the FCS and FBS in receiving yards (1,499), receiving yards per game (136.3) and receptions per game (10.5) at the end of his season. Doss’ receptions per game set a new Big Sky single-season record.

The preseason watch list of 25 players includes at least one player from all 13 FCS conferences as well as 14 players who were nominees or finalists last season.

The Payton Award, first presented in 1987, has watched past winners such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Brian Finneran, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp move on to the NFL.

The watch list will have updates during the season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winner following the regular season.

To stay up-to-date with the Big Sky Conference, follow us on Facebook at /BigSkyConf or on Instagram and Twitter @BigSkyConf. Fans can also follow Big Sky football on Twitter @BigSkyFB.

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