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Nominees Announced, Voting Open for 2016 Walter Payton Achievement Award


The six nominees for the ninth annual Walter Payton Achievement Award, which is given to one player from each team participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, have been announced. The 12th annual game, which showcases and celebrates teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, will feature the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Alcorn State University Braves of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 4 at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, and the game will be televised live on ESPN.

The nominees from Bethune-Cookman are redshirt junior wide receiver Jawill Davis, redshirt junior tight end Ja-Quan Lumas and senior running back Michael Jones. The nominees from Alcorn State are senior quarterback Lenorris Footman, senior wide receiver Charles Hughes and senior linebacker Michael Hurns. Finalists are selected by coaches and administrators from each participating school.

First presented in 2008, the Walter Payton Achievement Award is named in honor of the late Walter Payton, a former All-American at Jackson State University (1971 to 1974) and Professional Football Hall of Fame running back who spent his entire NFL career (1975 to 1987) with the Chicago Bears. The award recognizes exemplary student-athletes, shining a light on character and embodiment of team spirit.

Voting for the 2016 Walter Payton Achievement Award opened Wednesday, July 20, and will close Friday, Aug. 19. Fans can read more about the nominees on The Undefeated and vote on Award winners will be announced at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge welcome banquet at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 3. The award is regularly presented by Walter Payton’s son, Jarrett Payton.

Past winners of the Walter Payton Achievement Award include, 2015: Temarrick Hemingway, South Carolina State, and Kick Rucker Jr., Arkansas – Pine Bluff; 2014: Alan Cruz, Alabama A&M, and Quentin Todd, North Carolina A&T State University; 2013: Jonathan Pillow, Florida A&M University, and Kevin Eugene, Mississippi Valley State University; 2012: Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State University, and Arlen McCray-Nibbs, Bethune-Cookman University; 2011: Nesly Marcellon, Bethune-Cookman University, and Raheem Cardwell, Prairie View A&M University; 2010: Kevin Green, Delaware State University, and Gary Hollimon, Southern University; 2009: Van Phillips, Grambling State University, and Zachary Middleton, South Carolina State University; 2008: Kevin Teel, Hampton University, and Marcus Smith, Jackson State University.

Tickets to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge can be purchased through Ticketmaster online, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN.