No decision made yet if Bison QB Stick will attend Payton banquet
FARGO — North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, an honor that will be given out next Friday night at the annual STATS FCS awards banquet.
Whether Stick will be there is another matter.
The banquet carries a 7 p.m. start with the Payton Award announcement set for some point after 9 p.m. Stick’s Bison host Eastern Washington in the Division I FCS national title game Saturday morning at 11.
“Not sure on that yet,” Stick said. “Obviously it’s a decision we’ll have to make. I feel incredibly honored to be a finalist for that award and it’s awesome for our team. I think the quarterback position is a little unique in the fact you’re only as good as the guys you have around you.”
The event will be held at the Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco Convention Center. Other major awards to be announced include the Buck Buchanan Awards that goes to the best defensive player in the FCS and the Eddie Robinson Award that goes to the coach of the year in the subdivision.
Stick is a finalist along with Samford (Ala.) quarterback Devlin Hodges and Kennesaw State (Ga.) quarterback Chandler Burks. Most football teams hold meetings and walkthroughs the night before games.
NDSU has one Buchanan Award winner in its past in defensive end Kyle Emanuel in 2014. The timing was different in that the recipient was announced in mid-December at a Monday banquet in Philadelphia.
Emanuel and head coach Chris Klieman flew to Philadelphia to accept the award and were away from the team for one day. The Bison hosted Sam Houston State that Friday in the FCS semifinals. Klieman at the time said Emanuel could use “a day away from football anyway.”
Redshirt rule has helped Bison
There is no more saving anybody in regards to the new NCAA redshirt rule. The Bison will have several players who could play against the Eagles and not lose a year of eligibility thanks to the stipulation that allows a player who hasn’t redshirted to play up to four games and not have that year count against him.
Most likely, that means sophomore running back Seth Wilson and senior wide receiver Dimitri Williams will see the field. Wilson has played in three games and has 201 yards rushing, averaging 11.8 yards per carry. He had a key play in the third quarter in the semifinal win over South Dakota State, taking a handoff deep in NDSU territory and sprinting 78 yards to inside the SDSU 5-yard line.
“Seth Wilson is a great example,” Klieman said. “He can play in this last one and still retain a year of eligibility, which is awesome for that young man who has been banged up all year.”
Both Wilson and Williams played as true freshmen. Williams may be a starter on special teams like kickoff coverage.
“We played him early in the season and then held him out,” Klieman said. “So he’ll be able to give us some special teams depth and help us there, because he’s played at that high level on special teams.”
Other true freshmen who could play some sort of role are wide receiver Zach Mathis, quarterback Trey Lance, linebacker Mark Stumpf and defensive end Tony Pierce Jr.
“I think we’ve played 10 or 12 guys that have that four-game rule that we could utilize,” Klieman said.
NDSU will be allowed to travel 70 players and Klieman said several players who fit the bill within the four-game rule could make that roster.
“Whether or not they’ll be a starter or a contributor, they’ll at least be in our mix of our top 70,” he said. “But it’s been a great rule that has helped us immensely."