Cal Poly senior fullback Joe Protheroe finished fourth in balloting for the 2018 Walter Payton Award, presented by STATS to the offensive player of the year in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
One of 25 finalists for the award, Protheroe surpassed the 200-yard mark in rushing three consecutive times late in the season, four for the year and five times in his Mustang career. They are among 23 career 100-yard performances, including the final nine games of the 2018 season.
Three quarterbacks were invited Monday to Frisco, Texas, site of the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, on Jan. 4, the eve of the national championship game.
Kennesaw State’s Chandler Burks, Samford’s Devlin Hodges and North Dakota State’s Easton Stick are the three top vote getters for the award, named for the legendary College and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back and presented since 1987.
Past recipients include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Dave Dickenson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and two-time winners Armanti Edwards and Jeremiah Briscoe.
Protheroe, who rewrote the school record book in most rushing categories, was named the team’s most valuable player on Sunday at an awards banquet held at the Madonna Inn. He shattered school marks for single-season (1,810) and career (4,271) yards rushing and scored 35 career touchdowns, three shy of the mark.
Protheroe, whose 861 career carries is another record, finished No. 5 in the Big Sky record book for a single season and N0. 8 in career rushing in the conference.
The three-time first-team All-Big Sky performer finished No. 1 in the Big Sky and Football Championship Subdivision with his 1,810 yards and is No. 2 among active rushers in the FCS with his 4,271 career yards. Protheroe averaged 35.5 carries and 183.1 yards over eight conference games and is one of six Mustangs with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons.
Only other former Cal Poly football player nominated for the Walter Payton Award was slot back Deonte Williams in 2012. Williams finished 16th in that year’s balloting.
A national panel of 153 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Walter Payton Award following the regular season. Voters selected a Top 5 on their ballot.
-Provided by Cal Poly