Colgate’s Branch Wins Payton Award
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ Colgate running back Jamaal Branch won the Walter Payton Award on Thursday night as the top offensive player in Division I-AA.
Branch received 35 first-place votes and 310 points from a panel of Division I-AA sports information directors and media.
Grambling State quarterback Bruce Eugene finished second with 17 first-place votes and 237 points. Delaware quarterback Andy Hall was third with 219 points.
Branch gained 2,271 yards this season to set a single-season I-AA rushing record. He scored 29 touchdowns to help Colgate to a 15-0 record and a berth in Friday’s championship game against Delaware.
After leaving the Raiders late last season for personal and academic reasons, Branch returned to the team after a long offseason and some time at home.
``I was telling him what to do, and he had to chop a lot of wood,″ said his mother, Sherry Galvin. ``He has a lot of good friends who have helped him through this, and he has worked so hard to get back.″
An emotional Branch said he was grateful for a second chance.
``I have to thank our coaches for giving me the chance to come back,″ he said.
Meanwhile, Wofford coach Mike Ayers won the Eddie Robinson Award as the I-AA coach of the year. Ayers, runner-up for the award in 2002, guided the Terriers to a 12-2 mark and the Southern Conference championship.
Idaho State defensive end Jared Allen won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder had 102 tackles and 17.5 sacks this season.