FARGO — The individual accolades during North Dakota State’s FCS title run of seven championships in eight years has been few and far between. But the Bison broke through on Wednesday, Dec. 11, when quarterback Trey Lance was named the winner of the Jerry Rice Award, which goes to the best freshman in the FCS.
The honor is given by STATS.com, which organizes a voting army mostly of media members and sports information directors across the country. He will be honored at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas.
Lance was the overwhelming winner with 116 first place votes. Second place Jeff Undercuffler, the quarterback at the University of Albany (N.Y.), had 14 first place votes. Southern Illinois running back Javon Williams Jr. finished third. In customary character, Lance on Wednesday pointed to his coaches, specifically quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg and offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl, his teammates and the scout-team defensive players in practice.
"Huge shout-out to them, they give us a better look than sometimes we see on Saturday," Lance said. "This stuff doesn't happen without them."
It’s the first major award for a Bison player since defensive end Kyle Emanuel won the Buck Buchanan Award in 2014 that goes to the best defensive player in FCS. Lance has completed 161 of 235 passes for 69 percent with 25 touchdowns and no interceptions in leading the Bison into Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup against Illinois State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
Lance wasn’t the only Bison honored this week. Head coach Matt Entz was named the FCS Region 4 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. Entz is also a finalist for the STATS.com Eddie Robinson Award that goes to the FCS coach of the year.