Chicago, IL – STATS PERFORM named Austin Peay State University (APSU) senior wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson, senior nickel back Kordell Jackson, and freshman quarterback Draylen Ellis finalists, Monday, for the Walter Payton Award, the Buck Buchanan Award, and the Jerry Rice Award, respectively, recognizing the top FCS football athletes.
Wilson was one of 16 finalists for the Walter Payton Award which is presented annually to the FCS National Offensive Player of the Year.
For the second-straight season, Jackson was one of 16 finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, which recognizes the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year.
Ellis was one of 16 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, which recognizes the FCS’ National Freshman Player of the Year
After a record-setting season in 2019, Wilson led the Ohio Valley Conference and ranked sixth in the FCS with 619 receiving yards during the 2020-21 campaign. The 5-9 pass catcher recorded 100 yards in four of the five conference games he played in this spring – he recorded 99 receiving yards in the lone game where he failed to top the century mark – and averaged a league-best 112.4 yards per game in conference play.
Wilson caught three touchdowns last season and was the first Governor in 41 years to be named the OVC’s Offensive Player of the Year. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native was also named a first-team all-conference selection.
Jackson did not see the ball thrown his way as much in 2020-21 after earning consensus All-American honors in 2019. So instead, he wreaked havoc in the opposing offense’s backfields. He led all OVC tacklers with 10.5 tackles for loss – seven of those coming in OVC play, where he also had four pass breakups and an interception. The Birmingham, Alabama, native also picked up his second-straight First Team All-OVC honors this season.
In 2019, Jackson finished sixth in the Buck Buchanan Award voting, he is the first player in Austin Peay State University history to be named a finalist for any of the STATS PERFORM national player of the year awards in back-to-back seasons. Before Jackson, defensive end Jaison Williams was the only other APSU Gov to be named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, Williams finished 19th in the voting in 2017.
Taking over as the Govs starting quarterback at the beginning of conference play, Ellis impressed out of the gate with 214 total offensive yards and two touchdowns in his career’s first game Tennessee Tech, which earned him the first of his four OVC Newcomer of the Week honors. In the Governors double-overtime win at Southeast Missouri, Ellis had his breakout moment and tossed for a school-record six touchdowns.
The very next week, Ellis posted a career-high 305 passing yards against UT Martin and became the first Austin Peay quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards since JaVaughn Craig did it as a freshman in 2016. Ellis also threw for four more touchdowns in the Governors loss to UT Martin. In the APSU Govs final game against rival Murray State, Ellis threw for 227 yards, two touchdowns, and recorded his second rushing touchdown to lead Austin Peay to its second-straight win against a top-25 ranked program.
Ellis was named the OVC’s Newcomer of the Year by the league’s coaches and sports information directors, he was also selected as the quarterback for the conference’s all-newcomer team.
Running back Jay Bailey was the only previous Governor named a Walter Payton Award finalist, he finished 17th in the voting in 2002. No previous Austin Peay State University athlete has been named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award since its inception in 2011.
A 40-member national media panel will select the winners for each award from the unprecedented 2020-21 season, which has spanned the fall and spring semesters. The recipients will be announced on May 3rd.