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Jayson Foster wins 2007 Walter Payton Award

Georgia Southern quarterback honored as the most outstanding player in FCS college football

Walter Dean & Jayson Foster
Jayson Foster (R) poses with former Payton Award winner Walter Dean.
Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) - Georgia Southern quarterback Jayson Foster was named the 21st winner of the Walter Payton Award at the Sports Network FCS Awards Dinner, held on the eve of the NCAA Division I Football Championship.

"I feel very honored, very privileged to win the Walter Payton Award," said Foster. "You cannot win an elite award like this without having talented teammates and a great coaching staff. The Payton Award is a very prestigious honor, there are many great names who have won this award. It is humbling to be mentioned with such great collegiate football players."

Foster rushed for an NCAA all-divisions quarterback record of 1,844 yards (7.1 yards per carry) with 24 touchdowns during the 2007 season. The senior also completed 109-of-170 passes for 1,203 yards and six touchdowns.

Foster opened the season in top form, running for 231 yards on just 11 carries and three touchdowns and adding 124 yards passing with another TD in a 45-21 victory over West Georgia.

He added 253 yards rushing and six touchdowns as the Eagles beat Coastal Carolina, 42-34, in the second week of the season, and piled up 210 yards on the ground and 340 yards of total offense in a 45-38 loss to Chattanooga.

Never previously recognized for his passing ability, Foster showed off his improving skills in that area on Oct. 6, when he hit on 23-of-31 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown in Georgia Southern's 41-38 victory over South Dakota State.

The elusive 5-9, 164-pound speedster from Canton, GA sparked Georgia Southern to a 38-35 victory over Appalachian State on Oct. 20 with 175 yards rushing and one touchdown. The win ended the Mountaineers' Division I-best 30-game home winning streak.

Foster saved his best game for Nov. 3 in a key Southern Conference contest against Wofford, breaking league records for rushing yards in one quarter and one half. He finished with 279 yards on the ground, three TDs and 336 yards of total offense as the Eagles beat the Terriers, 38-35.

With a playoff berth riding on a win in the final game against FBS Colorado State, Foster keyed a late comeback that fell just short, running for 195 yards and three TDs and finishing with 302 yards of total offense in a 42-34 loss.

Foster was the starting quarterback for the Eagles in 2005, guiding them to an 8-4 record and an FCS playoff berth. A new head coach moved Foster to wide receiver in 2006, and Georgia Southern's fortunes sunk during a 3-8 season, the worst in school history.

But first-year head coach Chris Hatcher moved Foster back to quarterback for 2007, and was rewarded as the quarterback led GSU to a 7-4 record. The Eagles came within two points of winning a share of the Southern Conference championship and an automatic bid in the FCS playoffs.

Foster is the second Georgia Southern player to win the Payton Award, joining 1999 honoree Adrian Peterson, and is the fourth Southern Conference player to be so honored, along with Peterson, 1992 winner Michael Payton of Marshall and 2000 recipient Louis Ivory of Furman.

Foster received 24 first-place votes and 224 points out of 100 ballots cast by a panel of sports information directors and selected media. He finished 40 points ahead of Northern Iowa quarterback Eric Sanders, and 58 points in front of San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson.

Delaware running back Omar Cuff was fourth with 154 points, and 2006 Payton Award winner and New Hampshire quarterback Ricky Santos was fifth with 151 points. Santos, the 2006 Payton honoree, was attempting to become the first two-time winner of the Award.

The Walter Payton Award, named for the legendary Jackson State and Chicago Bears running back and established in 1987 by The Sports Network, is presented annually to the top player in FCS.

Previous winners of the honor include current NFL players such as the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo (2002, Eastern Illinois), Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (2001, Villanova), and quarterback Steve McNair of the Baltimore Ravens (1994, Alcorn State).

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