Gronowski finishes 2nd in Rice Award voting

Jason Salzman photo

CHICAGO – South Dakota State freshman Mark Gronowski finished as runner-up Monday in the balloting for the Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, honoring the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

A native of Naperville, Illinois, Gronowski received 10 of the 40 first-place votes from a national media panel en route to 115 points. 

Fellow quarterback Cameron Ward of the University of Incarnate Word was named the award winner after earning 19 first-place votes and 147 points. Virginia Military Institute quarterback Seth Morgan was a distant third with three first-place votes and 68 points.

Gronowski finished the regular season with 14 total touchdowns (8 passing, 6 rushing) and an average of 239 yards of total offense over six games, completing 76-of-133 passes (57.1 percent) for 1,051 yards and rushing for 383 yards. 

He has helped lead the Jackrabbits into the FCS semifinals, tallying another 493 yards of total offense (336 passing, 157 rushing) in playoff victories and against Holy Cross and Southern Illinois.

The third Jackrabbit finalist in a row to record a runner-up finish for the Jerry Rice Award, Gronowski is the fifth Jackrabbit player to be selected as a finalist for the award since its inception in 2011, joining the following: 

Austin Sumner, quarterback, 2011 (3rd); T.J. Lally, linebacker, 2012 (7th); Jake Wieneke, wide receiver, 2014 (2nd); Christian Rozeboom, linebacker, 2016 (2nd).

Jerry Rice Award Top 10

1. Cameron Ward, QB, Incarnate Word (19) - 147

2. Mark Gronowski, QB, South Dakota State (10) - 115

3. Seth Morgan, QB, Virginia Military Institute (3) - 68

4. Isaac Dowling, LB, Mercer (3) - 50

5. Tony Muskett, QB, Monmouth (1) - 42

6. Draylen Ellis, QB, Austin Peay - 33

6. Tommy Schuster, QB, North Dakota (1) - 33

8. Ty French, DE, Gardner-Webb - 23

9. Devon Starling, QB, Tennessee State (1) - 19

10. Keyon Turner, DE, Valparaiso - 17

Note: First place votes in parentheses

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