The Southwestern Athletic Conference had five football student-athletes named finalists for the Sports Network FCS Awards. Alabama State University’s Malcolm Cyrus (Autaugaville, Ala./Autaugaville) earned a spot on the Walter Payton Award shortlist. Arron Baker (Belle Glades, Fla./Belle Glades) of Alcorn State University, Austin Howard (Edgard, La./West St. John) from Southern University, and Damond Jackson (New Orleans, La./Landry-Walker) of Prairie View A&M University are currently finalists for the Jerry Rice Award.
The Walter Payton Award, established in 1987, is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player on the FCS level. The Jerry Rice Award, which honors the top first-year player on the FCS level whether a redshirt or true freshman, is entering its fourth season. Both awards are selected by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers, and other dignitaries from the division.
Cyrus entered the pool ranked nationally in eight different categories. The 2014 SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year led the league in rushing with 1,662 yards, averaging a league-best 138.5 yards per game. He finished second in total touchdowns and earned a league-high nine 100-yard rushing games. Cyrus finished 17th in the Payton Award voting.
Baker has been a workhorse in the backfield for the newly crowned SWAC champion Braves. He is Alcorn’s leading running back averaging 55.8 yards per game and scored a league-high 18 points in two games this season. The freshman also tied for second in the league with 13 total touchdowns.
Howard helped lead the Jaguars to their second consecutive western division title and SWAC championship game. He finished the season ranked nationally in 10 different categories, including top 20 in passing touchdowns and passing yards per completion.
Jackson is ranked nationally for total tackles and is top 10 in the league for tackles per game.