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=== Adrian Peterson captures Walter Payton Award ===
New York, NY (TSN) - Georgia Southern fullback Adrian Peterson was named the 13th winner of the Walter Payton Award today at the FCS College Football Awards ceremony held at Mickey Mantle's Restaurant in New York.
Peterson is the first sophomore to win the Payton Award which is presented annually by The Sports Network to the most outstanding player in FCS college football. In 11 regular season games in 1999, Peterson rushed for 1,807 yards. He led FCS in touchdowns with 29, and scoring with 174 points.
"I feel very honored to have been chosen to win this award, particularly this year in (Payton's) memory," said Peterson about winning the award. "It is also a tribute and an honor for my teammates, especially the offensive line and my good friend Greg Hill. He makes great decisions, spreads out the defense and makes my job so much easier. I sincerely believe it is a team award, and I accept it on their behalf."
Peterson, an Alachua, Florida native, has played in 22 games during his two-year collegiate career, and amazingly, he has rushed for over 100 yards in all of them. Not only can defenses not stop him, they cannot even hope to contain him. The 5-foot-10, 207-pound fullback averaged 164.27 yards per game and an astonishing 7.3 yards per carry. He rushed for over 200 yards in a game three times this season, and earned three Southern Conference offensive Player-of-the- Week honors.
Perhaps even more impressive than the yardage totals are Peterson's scoring numbers. For his career, Peterson has already recorded 55 touchdowns in 22 regular season games, which averages out to 2.5 touchdowns per game.
"It's certainly a well-deserved honor, and I am extremely happy for him," said Georgia Southern head coach Paul Johnson. "In my 18 years of coaching at many levels, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a better player. As good as a football player as he is, Adrian is a tremendous person first and foremost. That is what makes it, perhaps, even more special."
Peterson plays the fullback position on one of the most productive offenses in the nation. His running, along with the stellar play of option quarterback Greg Hill, helped the Eagles to lead the division in total offense (551.7 ypg), rushing offense (419.0 ypg) and scoring offense (50.0 ppg).
Peterson is just the second underclassman to win the award, joining former Weber State quarterback Jamie Martin who won it as a junior in 1991. Peterson is the sixth running back to win the Payton Award and the second player from the Southern Conference.
Peterson received 22 first-place votes and 209 points from the panel of 75 FCS media and sports information directors. Following Peterson in the voting were Hofstra quarterback Giovanni Carmazzi, Cal State Sacramento running back Charles Roberts, Montana quarterback Drew Miller and Portland State quarterback Jimmy Blanchard. The Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network.
Previous winners of the Payton Award are: 1998 - Jerry Azumah, New Hampshire; 1997 - Brian Finneran, Villanova; 1996 - Archie Amerson, Northern Arizona; 1995 - Dave Dickenson, Montana; 1994 - Steve McNair, Alcorn State; 1993 - Doug Nussmeier, Idaho; 1992 - Michael Payton, Marshall; 1991 - Jamie Martin, Weber State; 1990 - Walter Dean, Grambling State; 1989 - John Friesz, Idaho; 1988 - Dave Meggett, Towson; 1987 - Kenny Gamble, Colgate.