PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- (Sports Network) - The second sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award says his team's season was all about the seniors.
Taylor Heinicke says the seniors were there first when Old Dominion's fourth-year football program was being built to a high level of success.
The Monarchs didn't jump to their highest level, though, until Heinicke became the starting quarterback in the last season and a half, and many other people knew it, including the senior class.
Just as impressed were voters of the 2012 Walter Payton Award, who on Monday night made Heinicke the 26th recipient of the outstanding player honor in the Football Championship Subdivision. He received nearly half of the first-place votes from a national media panel - 72 of 145 - and 531 points to capture the award over Stony Brook senior running back Miguel Maysonet (284 points) and Wofford senior fullback Eric Breitenstein (197).
"People kept working that much harder for the seniors," Heinicke said. "They came here based on a pamphlet and something that could have happened, and it did."
Heinicke didn't have his redshirt lifted as a true freshman until the fifth game of the 2011 season, but he went on to become the runner-up for the Jerry Rice Award, which honors the FCS freshman of the year.
He then soared to greater heights this season. As ODU finished 10-1 in the regular season, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Atlanta led the FCS in passing yards (4,158), total yards (4,535), touchdown passes (35) and points responsible for (24.2 per game). He rushed for 377 yards and eight touchdowns.
Heinicke, a mechanical engineering major, commanded the national spotlight on Sept. 22 when he set Division I single-game records with 730 passing yards and 791 total yards in Old Dominion's 64-61 victory over New Hampshire.
Including ODU's two playoff games, Heinicke finished the season with an FCS- record 5,076 passing yards. He threw for 44 touchdowns, rushed for 11 more and had 5,546 yards of total offense.
"It's huge, very humbling," Heinicke said. "It's the Heisman of the FCS. That's a huge honor, very humbling and I'm very excited about it. I can't thank enough of my family, my coaches, my trainer back home. All this hard work is really paying off."
The first sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award was Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson in 1999.
All three players were feted at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation along with the winners of the Buck Buchanan Award (Montana State's Caleb Schreibeis, FCS outstanding defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (Villanova's John Robertson, FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (North Dakota State's Craig Bohl, FCS coach of the year).
The awards are voted upon by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
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SOURCE The Sports Network