PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- (Sports Network) - After a 2-9 campaign in 2011, Villanova needed a spark to return to FCS relevance. At the start of this season, few knew where that spark would come from, and it looked worse after the Wildcats dropped their opening game against Temple.
But in that game, redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson came off the bench and played well, which led to him getting the starting nod from coach Andy Talley moving forward.
The move paid dividends for Villanova and Robertson. On Monday night, he became the second player to win the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the outstanding freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision. Robertson received 56 of the 145 first-place votes and 412 points, while Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen finished second in the voting with 361 points.
"Once I started getting in there and playing again, it reminded me of why I love playing football so much - honestly," Robertson said. "Our whole team had high hopes, we all knew people were coming back, we were just young the year before."
CAA Football has now produced back-to-back Rice winners, as Towson running back Terrance West won the inaugural award last season.
Robertson helped fuel Villanova's turnaround as a dual-threat signal-caller. He started 10 games in the regular season, rushing for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns and passing for 1,830 yards and 14 touchdowns. Add in the FCS playoffs and he finished the season rushing for 1,021 yards and 14 touchdowns and passing for 1,965 yards. The Wildcats had the best turnaround in the FCS regular season - six wins - to go 8-3 and earn a share of the CAA title and the conference's automatic playoff bid.
Robertson joked that it might be too much to ask for for him to raise his rushing total every year, and that the key to his running abilities was simple.
"I'm not sure," Robertson said as he laughed. "Kevin's (Monangai) with me back there in the backfield; he needs a lot of carries, too. The coaches always told me if you're going to run, run hard and don't be indecisive."
The Paramus, N.J., native is happy to have an opportunity to play close to home, where his family can see just about every game.
"It's a great honor. Jerry Rice is a great player, so just to have my name put on the award is really special," Robertson said. "I'm really grateful."
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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