It’s good when a local university football player is honored nationally. It’s certainly not ordinary to have two such players honored in the same year.
We’re pleased that both the offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Football Championship Subdivision are from Louisiana football teams.
Cole Kelley, a senior quarterback with the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions, was named the Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award winner. Jordan Lewis, a junior with the Southern University Jaguars, was named the 2020-21 Buck Buchanan Award winner.
Kelley, a Lafayette native, is the 34th Payton Award recipient. Kelley threw for 2,662 yards, an FCS high, and he led the nation in points responsible with 18 passing touchdowns, seven rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. Two days after being named the Payton Award winner, Kelley was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Offensive Player of the Year.
Lewis, the nation’s top pass rusher, topped a field of 18 Buck Buchanan Award candidates. Junious “Buck” Buchanan was a legendary defensive lineman at Grambling State University. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Earlier, Lewis, a 6-foot-3 junior, was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. He finished the spring football season with 27 overall tackles, including 19 solo tackles — in a five-game season. In a single game, he had 11 tackles and a forced fumble.
Being named the offensive player of the year and the defensive player of the year means Kelley and Lewis performed with high quality. The FCS includes more than 12 college football conferences, including the Big Sky, Big South, Mideastern Atlantic, Southwestern Athletic and Southland conferences. That’s broad and stiff competition. Our guys came out on top.