CHATTANOOGA, TN (WBTW) — University of Tennessee at Chattanooga running back Ailym Ford was named a finalist for the 2019 Jerry Rice Award today. The Jerry Rice Award goes to the national freshman of the year in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
The Jerry Rice Award is part of the STATS FCS legacy awards, which honor the national players and coach of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
Ford led the Mocs with 1,081 rushing yards this season. He was nine yards shy of the school freshman record set by Mike Smith in 1977 before being sidelined with an injury on Nov. 9 at Samford. He did not play in the final two games of the year.
Ford entered the year as the No. 3 ball carrier on the Mocs’ depth chart, but quickly moved his way into a more prominent role in the offense. Six times he ran for over 100 yards, including five in a row late in the season.
His 108.1 rushing yards per game led all freshmen in the FCS, were second in the SoCon and No. 11 in the nation overall. He also tied for the team lead with nine rushing touchdowns. Ford was the was the leading rusher in the Southern Conference in league only game with 139.2 yards in six contests.
Nominees were pared to finalists for the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year).
Ford is the fourth Moc to earn a spot on the list. Terrell Robinson placed 21st in the voting in 2011, Jacob Huesman was fourth in 2012 and Lucas Webb was 16th in 2014.
A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winners. Voting is based on the regular season.
All four awards and the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.
9th JERRY RICE AWARD
FCS Freshman Player of the Year – 20 Finalists
John Bachus III, QB, UT Martin
Omar Brown, DB, Northern Iowa
Tyrese Chambers, WR, Sacred Heart
Ian Corwin, QB, Drake
Jacob Dobbs, LB, Holy Cross
Nick Eaton, LB, UC Davis
Tra Fluellen, DB, Houston Baptist
Ailym Ford, RB, Chattanooga
Xavier Gipson, WR, Stephen F. Austin
Tyler Hudson, WR, Central Arkansas
Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim, WR, Alabama A&M
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Jalen Leary, RB, Stetson
Jacob Roberts, LB, North Carolina A&T
Keegan Shoemaker, QB, Lafayette
Jake Stebbins, LB, Cornell
Jeff Undercuffler, QB, UAlbany
Tristan Wheeler, LB, Richmond
Hajj-Malik Williams, QB, Campbell
Javon Williams Jr., RB, Southern Illinois
Courtesy: Chattanooga Athletics