One of the key aspects of the University of Idaho entering the 2022 season with a freshman starting quarterback was Gevani McCoy’s reactions after plays.

They were often the same whether the result of a play was positive or negative for the Vandals.

McCoy’s even-keel demeanor at football’s most-important position was as pivotal as the production he supplied during Idaho’s surprising run to the FCS playoffs. It all combined into the redshirt freshman becoming a runaway winner among 25 finalists for the Stats Perform Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the national freshman of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

A 54-member panel voted on the 12th annual award – named after legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who starred at Mississippi Valley State as part of his Hall of Fame career – with UAlbany quarterback Reese Poffenbarger finishing second and Saint Francis wide receiver Makai Jackson third. McCoy will be honored at the FCS National Awards banquet on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.

In Idaho’s first four seasons after returning to the FCS from the FBS level in 2018, the Vandals did not finish with a winning record, either overall or in the Big Sky Conference. This season, first-year coach Jason Eck and his staff selected the 6-foot, 175-pound McCoy as the starter following a preseason competition, and the decision paid off.

After the Vandals opened the campaign with back-to-back competitive losses to FBS opponents, they went on to win at rival Montana and go 7-4, including a 6-2 Big Sky mark and a tie for third place in the 12-team conference. They lost 45-42 at Southeastern Louisiana in the playoffs.

McCoy, who played in 11 of the 12 games, threw for at least three touchdowns five times, and he set the Vandals’ single-game record for completion percentage by going 18 of 20 (90 percent) in a win at Northern Arizona. He finished the season 203 of 297 (68.4 percent) for 2,721 yards and a freshman-high 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions with a 170.6 passer rating that ranks fifth in the FCS. He also rushed for three touchdowns and caught one.

“We had a great season and played some really good teams,” McCoy said. “We showed a lot about our team this past season. I feel like it was a great first season under Coach Eck and a whole new coaching staff. It was a great way to just start changing the culture.”

The Jerry Rice Award, first presented after the 2011 season, has a distinguished list of past recipients, including current NFL players Cooper Kupp, Chase Edmonds and Trey Lance.

Also at the national banquet, Stats Perform will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year), and FedEx Ground will present the Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.


2022 Jerry Rice Award Voting Results

Following is a breakdown of the voting results. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point. The final number is the combined point total.

1. Gevani McCoy, QB, Idaho: 31-9-2-2-2-203

2. Reese Poffenbarger, QB, UAlbany: 9-6-10-7-5-118

3. Makai Jackson, WR, Saint Francis: 2-12-7-10-6-105

4. Rex Connors, DB, UC Davis: 5-4-13-7-5-99

5. Eric O’Neill, DL, LIU: 2-8-5-8-4-77

6. Desmond Reid, RB, Western Carolina: 0-5-2-7-1-41

7. Travis Hunter, WR/DB, Jackson State: 2-2-1-2-0-25

8. Jalen Jones, DB, William & Mary: 0-1-3-2-1-18

9.(tie) Patrick Rohrbach, P, Montana: 1-1-1-0-5-17

9.(tie)Sam Franklin, RB, UT Martin: 0-0-2-4-3-17

9.(tie) Wedner Cadet, DB, Georgetown: 2-1-0-0-3-17

12. Joshua Pitsenberger, RB, Yale: 0-3-0-0-0-12

13. Finn Claypool, DL, Drake: 0-1-0-1-5-11

14.(tie) Eli Ennis, LB, Nicholls: 0-1-1-1-1-10

14.(tie) Ryan Butler, RB, Princeton: 0-0-2-1-2-10

16. Brady Meitz, QB, Stetson: 0-0-2-0-1-7

17. Kohner Cullimore, LB, Southern Utah: 0-0-0-0-6-6

18.(tie) Mason Woods, LB, Towson: 0-0-1-0-1-4

18.(tie) Noah Walters, QB, North Alabama: 0-0-1-0-1-4

20. Jerrell Wimbley, RB, Stephen F. Austin: 0-0-1-0-0-3

21.(tie) Ismail Mahdi, RB, Houston Baptist: 0-0-0-1-0-2

21.(tie) Marquis Gillis, RB, Delaware State: 0-0-0-1-0-2

23.(tie) Adrian Maddox, DB, Alabama State: 0-0-0-0-1-1

23.(tie) Seth Anderson, WR, Charleston Southern: 0-0-0-0-1-1

25. Cade Chambers, QB, Indiana State: 0-0-0-0-0-0