UND's Otis Weah finishes fifth in Walter Payton Award voting

Weah, a sophomore from Moorhead, has ran for 634 yards and eight touchdowns.

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Fighting Hawks running back Otis Weah carries the ball through the N.D. State Bison defense on a first quarter carry Saturday, March 20, 2021 at the Fargodome. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

UND sophomore running back Otis Weah finished fifth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top offensive player in the FCS.

Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere, Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Cole Kelley and Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut were invited Wednesday to the announcement of the Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award.

The voting for finalists Nos. 4-16 were unveiled as part of the announcement of the the last three candidates.

Weah led the Missouri Valley Football Conference in yards per game, yards per carry and total touchdowns.

Weah has carried 89 times for 634 yards for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. He has eight total touchdowns and at least one in every game for the 5-1 Fighting Hawks, who travel to Harrisonburg, Va., to play James Madison on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the FCS quarterfinals.


"Very hard-nosed, explosive runner," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "He can do different things for us. He can run inside and outside. He's tough to bring down. Otis doesn't just want to be a ball-carrier. He works hard at learning pass protections.

"He loves football. He brings a lot of energy to practicing hard. He brings a lot to our team."

Past winners of the Walter Payton Award include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance.

Barriere, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, ranked in the top five nationally over a six-game regular season in passing yards (2,193, fourth), passing yards per game (365.5, fifth), attempts (265, fifth), completions (166, fifth), touchdown passes (18, tied for third) and total offensive yards (2,328, third). He went on to pass for 246 yards and a touchdown in a playoff loss this past weekend at North Dakota State.

Chestnut, a 6-1, 215-pound junior, rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown in a playoff loss as well. It followed a four-game regular season in which he led the FCS in rushing yards per game (179.3) and all-purpose yards per game (222.0) and ranked second in points per game (17.0) and fourth in yards per carry (7.7).

Kelley, a 6-7, 260-pound senior, played in seven regular-season games, leading the FCS in passing yards (2,662), completions (210), total offensive yards (2,708) and total touchdowns (27). He also was in the top five in pass attempts (305, second), TD passes (18, tied for third) and completion percentage (68.9, fifth).

A 40-member national media panel voted on the Payton Award following the spring regular season.

2020-21 Walter Payton Award Voting Results


A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.

1. TBA, May 15

2. TBA, May 15

3. TBA, May 15

4. Jakob Herres, WR, VMI: 1-4-5-2-4-44

5. Otis Weah, RB, North Dakota: 1-1-5-2-5-33

6. Aqeel Glass, RB, Alabama A&M: 1-1-2-4-7-30

7. Dejoun Lee, RB, Delaware: 0-4-1-1-1-22


8.(tie) Juwon Farri, RB, Monmouth: 0-2-1-2-5-20

8.(tie) Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State: 0-2-1-3-3-20

10. Liam Welch, QB, Samford: 0-1-3-1-4-19

11.(tie) Percy Agyei-Obese, RB, James Madison: 1-0-2-1-1-14

11.(tie) Tyler Hudson, WR, Central Arkansas: 0-1-1-2-3-14

13. Quay Holmes, RB, ETSU: 0-1-2-1-1-13

14. Keith Pearson, WR, Presbyterian: 0-0-0-4-1-9

15. DeAngelo Wilson, WR, Austin Peay: 0-1-1-0-1-8

16. Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham: 0-0-0-1-0-2

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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