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Otis Weah named Walter Payton Award finalist

Redshirt sophomore running back Otis Weah was named as a Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award finalist on Monday, an award presented annually to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Weah is the first player in program history to earn the distinction and the first player to be a finalist for a major national award in college football since Weston Dressler was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award in 2007.

The Moorhead, Minnesota native was all over the field for the Fighting Hawks, finishing second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 570 rushing yards while his seven rushing touchdowns were tops in the league. He paced the conference and was sixth nationally with 114.0 yards per game and his 7.50 yards per carry also led the MVFC and sits fifth in the nation, leading the country among underclassmen.

Weah scored a touchdown in all five games this season, including a pair of multi-score games in wins over No. 3 South Dakota State and No. 20 South Dakota. He also busted out for two 100-yard rushing games, scampering for 163 yards on 16 carries in that same win over the Coyotes and a 13-carry, 129-yard performance with a touchdown at No. 4 North Dakota State.

He is a finalist for the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year award, where he is looking to become the first running back to claim the honor since Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State won it in 2014 and 2015 and the 13th running back since 1985 to win the award.

As a team, North Dakota finished third in the conference in rushing while leading the league in scoring and total offense. A 40-member national media panel will select the winner from the unprecedented 2020-21 season on May 15, which has spanned the fall and spring semesters.

Tommy Schuster named Jerry Rice Award finalist

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Schuster was named as a Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award finalist on Monday, an award presented annually to the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Schuster becomes the second player in program history, first on the offensive side, to be named as a finalist for the award. Current linebacker Noah Larson was also up for the award following the 2018 season.

The Macomb, Michigan native started all five games at quarterback for UND, helping guide the Hawks to a 4-1 record and a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title. The redshirt freshman rattled off three straight wins over ranked opponents to start the season and won his first five games he appeared in dating back to 2019.

Overall, Schuster led the conference and ranked sixth in the nation with a .656 completion percentage, a number that would place him fifth all-time at North Dakota. He also topped the league in passing efficiency at 133.6 and passing touchdowns with eight. His 1,005 passing yards were second among MVFC quarterbacks and his 201.0 yards per game sat third.

He had a pair of games with three passing scores, tossing a trio of touchdowns to lead UND to a season-opening win vs. No. 24 Southern Illinois before throwing for over 300 yards and adding three more scores in a victory at Western Illinois. Schuster was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Leathernecks.

As a team, UND paces the MVFC in total offense, ranks third in passing offense and second in scoring. Schuster was sacked only once on the year, a number that ranks third in the nation and first in the conference. He is a finalist for the league’s freshman and newcomer of the year awards.

A 40-member national media panel will select the winner from the unprecedented 2020-21 season on May 3, which has spanned the fall and spring semesters.

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