Second of a three-part series profiling the top vote-getters for the 2011 Walter Payton Award.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Although Chris Lum hasn't given it much thought, his major at Lehigh University reflects in his skills as a quarterback.
He's studying supply chain management, learning the operations of getting products and services from a supplier to a customer in an efficient way.
His Mountain Hawks teammates are grading high for Lum. His efficiency at football's most important position helped them to a championship season and made him a finalist for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which honors the outstanding player in the FCS, is presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
Chris Lum led Lehigh to a second straight unbeaten season in Patriot League play and was named the league's offensive player of the year.
"I think I'm doing a better job of taking what the defense gives me, not forcing as many passes like I did last year," the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior said. "I think I've gotten a lot better reading defense, anticipating the coverages and I think I've gotten better at knowing our own playbook, knowing our own plays and how to progress from receiver to receiver. Experience does a lot for a quarterback."
Lum, from Lake Orion, Mich., led Lehigh to a second straight unbeaten season in Patriot League play and was named the league's offensive player of the year. As the Mountain Hawks finished 10-1 in the regular season, Lum ranked third in the FCS in passing yards per game (348.6) and second in touchdown passes (31). He completed 297-of-443 pass attempts (67 percent) for 3,739 yards, with 15 interceptions.
"Chris has certainly earned his success," said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen, whose team went on to reach the FCS quarterfinals and finish 11-2. "He has worked incredibly hard to make himself an All-American-caliber quarterback. He possesses all the traits great quarterbacks have. He is constantly learning and getting better. He improves week to week. He is a great leader, a great competitor and a great teammate, and has been the catalyst for our success this season."
A leader by example, Lum said he is particularly proud of this past offseason, when the Mountain Hawks didn't rest on the laurels of a breakout 2010 season and instead put a collective pedal to the medal.
The Walter Payton and Eddie Robinson awards are marking their silver anniversaries this year. The Payton honors the FCS' outstanding player and the Robinson celebrates the national coach of the year. In addition to those two awards, the Buck Buchanan (FCS outstanding defensive player) and the Jerry Rice (FCS freshman of the year) awards will be announced at the FCS Awards Presentation on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas. All four awards are presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
He operated more out of a shotgun this season as their multiple offense kept expanding. Their only regular-season loss was in overtime to fellow FCS playoff qualifier New Hampshire, and Lum tied a school record with six touchdown passes while throwing for 401 yards.
"I think we always knew we were kind of capable of something like this season," Lum said. "But I think Ryan Spadola, Jake Drwal, Jimmy Jefferson and all my receivers and tight ends, they worked really hard over the summer. It's definitely not a one-man show. I have an amazing supporting cast and because of their hard efforts and my hard efforts we're having this success.
"It doesn't surprise me as a team what our success has been this year. Individually, I guess I am surprised a little bit by the stats that I've put up this year. I knew I could be a good player and one to help my team win some games. But I am surprised that week after week I was putting up such high figures. I worked really hard this past summer and my whole career. I guess it paid off."