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Brian Westbrook wins 2001 Walter Payton Award

Villanova running back honored as the most outstanding player in FCS college football

Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook and Rocky Butler
Adrian Peterson (L), Brian Westbrook and Rocky Butler pose after Westbrook was announced as the 2001 Payton Award winner. Westbrook rushed for 1,603 yards, caught 59 passes for 658 yards, and scored 29 TDs in leading 8-3 Villanova to a Colonial Athletic (formerly Atlantic 10) co-title.
Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) - Villanova running back Brian Westbrook was named the 15th winner of the Walter Payton Award tonight at the FCS College Football Awards held in Chattanooga, TN on the eve of the FCS national championship game.

The senior rushed for 1,603 yards, caught 59 passes for 658 yards, and scored 29 touchdowns in leading 8-3 Villanova to an Colonial Athletic (formerly Atlantic 10) co-title. Also a fixture in the punt and kickoff return games, Westbrook paced FCS during the 2001 season in all-purpose yards (256.64 per game) and scoring (16.7 points per game). Westbrook's 145.7 yards per game were third-best in the division, and he was also seventh in FCS in points responsible for. The Fort Washington, MD native graduated as the NCAA's all-divisions all-purpose yardage leader, with 9,512 total yards to his credit during his four-year career.

Said Villanova coach Andy Talley: "Many people have asked me what player Brian is most like, and Walter Payton comes to mind immediately. Brian has that incredible versatility, the ability to run and catch, and make would-be tacklers miss. His work ethic, drive and perseverance are unmatched. He has made Villanovans everywhere proud. Having Brian Finneran win the Payton in 1997 and now Westbrook in 2001 is beyond what any football program could dream."

Westbrook, just two years removed from major knee surgery, began his season bolting for 146 yards on just 13 carries, catching eight passes for 75 yards, and mustering a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 38-14 win over Colgate. On the night, Westbrook scored all five of the team's TDs. After a 100-yard rushing day against Northeastern the following week, Westbrook showed his versatility to the tune of a 128-yard receiving effort in a 31-30 upset at Richmond. Against James Madison a week later, Westbrook rushed for 228 yards in an overtime win. Two weeks later versus Maine, it was 181 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. Westbrook would finish his career by rushing for 100 yards or better in his final five games, including a 287-yard effort against third-ranked Hofstra and a 233-yard performance in the season finale versus William & Mary.

Westbrook is the eighth running back to win the Payton Award, and the fourth consecutive. The senior became the second player from Villanova to win the Payton, after current Atlanta Falcon Brian Finneran became the first wide receiver to win the Award in 1997. Westbrook is the third player from the Atlantic 10 Football Conference to claim the Payton, after Finneran and New Hampshire running back Jerry Azumah (1998).

Westbrook received 31 first-place votes and 320 points from the panel of 103 FCS sports information directors and selected media. Following Westbrook in the voting were Hofstra's Rocky Butler, who earned 22 first-place votes and 267 total points, and Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson, who finished in the top three of the voting for the fourth consecutive year. Furman's Louis Ivory finished fifth in this year's voting.

The Walter Payton Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 9
DUR 1
 
Final
MIA 101
CHA 97
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR
 
Final
ATL 3
MIA 1
Final
CHC 5
ARI 7
Final
COL 10
SFG 12
Final
OAK 0
TEX 3
Final
SEA 5
HOU 3
Final
PIT 2
CIN 5
Final
CLE 5
KAN 3
Final
WAS 5
ANA 4
Final
TOR 8
BAL 10
Final
DET 4
CWS 6
Final
TAM 4
MIN 6
Final
BOS 5
NYY 1
Final
NYM 3
STL 2
Final
MIL 5
SDP 2
Final
LOS 5
PHI 2
12:05pm Today
CLE
KAN
 
12:35pm Today
PIT
CIN
 
1:08pm Today
DET
CWS
 
1:10pm Today
TAM
MIN
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
STL
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
ARI
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
SDP
 
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
NYY
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
PHI
 
Final
MIA 101
CHA 97
Final
SAN 92
DAL 113
Final
HOU 105
POR 112
7:00pm Tonight
ATL
IND
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
OKC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAC
Final
CLB 4
PIT 3
Final
DAL 4
ANA 2
Final
CHI 4
STL 3
8:00pm Tonight
DET
BOS
9:30pm Tonight
MIN
COL
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
SJS
Final
CHR 9
DUR 1
 
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR