Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Cole Kelley won the Walter Payton Award on Saturday as the best offensive player in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

The former Teurlings Catholic standout is the 34th player to win the Walter Payton Award, which is named for the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who played college football at Jackson State.

Before 1995, the Payton Award was given out to the most outstanding player in FCS. However, it was changed to recognize the best offensive player after the Buck Buchanan Award was created for the nation's best defensive player.

Past winners of the Payton Award include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Kelley received 16 first-place votes to edge out Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere for the honor.

"It was surreal and I got goosebumps when I heard my name announced," Kelley said. "I was thinking about how many people helped me get to this point, especially my family and all my coaches. I wouldn't have made it to this point without all the support from (SLU head) Coach (Frank) Scelfo and (SLU offensive coordinator) Coach (Greg) Stevens."

Kelley led the FCS with 2,662 passing yards and was fourth nationally with 18 touchdown passes during the 2021 spring season. He also rushed for 7 touchdowns and caught 2 more touchdowns in 7 games.

Earlier last week, Kelley was named second-team All-America.

Unfortunately, Southeastern Louisiana (4-3) missed the FCS playoffs. In the season finale against Southern Illinois (a 55-48 loss), Kelley completed 34 of 42 passes for 418 yards and 5 total touchdowns.

A highly touted prep star from Lafayette, Kelley started his collegiate career at Arkansas and played there two seasons, from 2017-2018.

Kelley started a total of six games for the Razorbacks, going 3-3 under former head coaches Bret Bielema and Chad Morris.

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