JSU's Cooper & Pearson on Walter Payton Award Watch List


The Preseason Watch List for the Walter Payton Award was released on Wednesday, and two members of the Jacksonville State football team are on it.

Senior receiver Josh Pearson and junior quarterback Zerrick Cooper were both listed among 25 players selected by STATS as players to watch for the postseason honor that goes to the Offensive Player of the Year in FCS Football.

[Hear from Cooper & Pearson in the featured video]

It was first awarded in 1987, has watched past winners such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Brian Finneran, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp move on to the NFL.

Pearson led all Division I players with 17 touchdown receptions during the regular season. The Decatur, Ala., native caught six more touchdown passes in a season than any other player in school history, while his 67 catches and 1,123 yards were each second-most in a season in JSU history.

The All-America honors came following the junior's naming as an All-Ohio Valley Conference performer and after he was named one of 25 finalists for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the Offensive Player of the Year in FCS.

Cooper had the best passing season in school history in 2018, setting new school records with 3,416 yards, 32 touchdown passes and 251 completions. His 290.9 yards of total offense per game are also a new school record.

The Jonesboro, Ga., native ranked third nationally in touchdown passes and fourth in passing yards in 2018, while also finishing among the national leaders in passing efficiency (13th- 147.6) and total offense (15th- 290.9). With just one season under his belt at JSU, he already ranks seventh in school history in career touchdown passes and 10th in career passing yards.

The Gamecocks will play a school-record seven home games during the 2019 regular season, beginning with a Sept. 7 home opener vs. Chattanooga. Also visiting in non-conference play are preseason No. 7 Eastern Washington on Sept. 14.

(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)

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