Fordham University Freshman Running Back Chase Edmonds was named the 2014 recipient of the Sports Network’s Jerry Rice Award, presented to the top NCAA FCS freshman. He will receive his award at the annual Sports Network FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia tonight.
The top first-year player in the FCS, whether a true freshman or a redshirt freshman, receives the Jerry Rice Award named for the legendary wide receiver who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State. The award, in its fourth season, will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.
The Rice Award has been a barometer for FCS greatness. The first three winners have been former Towson running back Terrance West (2011), now with the Cleveland Browns, and two 2014 Walter Payton Award finalists for FCS player of the year, Villanova quarterback John Robertson (2012) and Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp (2013).
Edmonds, the first Fordham football student-athlete to receive a major player of the year award from the Sports Network, enjoyed a record-setting rookie season, carrying 294 for 1,838 yards and 23 touchdowns and returning 24 kickoffs for 514 yards (21.4 average). He set school marks for most rushing yards in a season (former record was 1,596 set by Carlton Koonce in 2012) and surpassed Kirwin Watson’s former record of 20 rushing touchdowns set in 2003.
Edmonds led the Patriot League and is fourth in the NCAA in all-purpose yards per game (176.64) and he led the league and is seventh in the country in rushing yards per game (131.3). He also was tops in the Patriot League and is fifth in the NCAA FCS in scoring (10.3 ppg) and was first in the league and is second in the FCS in rushing touchdowns and third in the nation in total rushing yards.
Saving his best for last, Edmonds rushed 18 times for 208 yards and one touchdown in the second round NCAA FCS Championship game at New Hampshire while also returning seven kickoffs for 164 yards and catching two passes for 13 yards. His 385 all-purpose yards were a Patriot League single-game record (previous was 370 set by Lehigh’s Ronald Jean in 1999) and his 208 rushing yards and 164 kickoff return yards were the top marks for Patriot League player in an FCS playoff game. Edmonds also set an NCAA FCS Championship game record with a 91-yard touchdown run, surpassing the previous long of 90 yards set by Henry Fields of McNeese State in 1994.
On the year, Edmonds amassed 2,473 all-purpose yards, setting a Fordham and Patriot League single-season record (former league mark was 2,425 set by Colgate’s Kenny Gamble in first League season in 1986 and the former school mark was 2,133 set by Javarus Dudley in 2003), while his school-record 1,838 rushing yards puts him fourth in the Patriot League single-season record book, and his school-record 23 rushing touchdowns ties him for second all-time in the conference. Edmonds also set a school record with 144 points scored this fall, bettering Kirwin Watson’s 2003 mark of 126 points.
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