Clutch play reflects in Mark Gronowski’s remarkable statistics, but his season, and career, as South Dakota State’s starting quarterback are defined particularly by the win total.

One win after another.

His unbeaten team about to play for a second consecutive national title, Gronowski is the 2023 Walter Payton Award recipient as the national offensive player in college football’s Division I FCS. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior received the 37th annual award Saturday night at the Stats Perform FCS National Awards Banquet, presented by FedEx Ground, in Frisco, Texas.

A national voting panel selected Gronowski from a group of 30 finalists, with New Hampshire quarterback Max Brosmer finishing second and Monmouth running back Jaden Shirden third.

Gronowski, from Naperville, Illinois, has led the FCS in passing efficiency while directing a 14-0 season, including wins over nine Top 25 opponents. The Jackrabbits carry a 28-game winning streak – the third-longest in FCS history – into Sunday’s national championship game against Montana.

Gronowski, who’s 36-3 as a starter in his career, was selected as the outstanding player of last year’s FCS title game. This season, he was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s co-offensive player of the year along with his Jackrabbits teammate Isaiah Davis, who finished seventh in the Payton voting.

Gronowski has a 182.7 passer rating, completing 196 of 286 (68.5 percent) attempts for 2,883 yards and 28 touchdowns against only four interceptions. The first-team All-American also has rushed for 349 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I think the ‘it’ factor with Mark is he’s a winner,” SDSU coach Jimmy Rogers said. “He doesn’t ever feel like’s he down and the moment’s never too big for him, and he doesn’t get rattled. I think that’s a rare trait.”

Brosmer, the Payton runner-up, ranks No. 1 in the FCS in passing yards per game (314.9) and total offensive yards per game (326.4). Shirden led in rushing yards (1,478) during the regular season and is No. 1 in rushing yards per game (134.4) for the second consecutive year.

The Walter Payton Award, named for the legendary running back and first presented in 1987, has a distinguished history of recipients, many of whom went on to NFL careers. They include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance.  


2023 Walter Payton Award 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. Mark Gronowski, QB, South Dakota State: 18-7-8-3-3-151

2. Max Brosmer, QB, New Hampshire: 7-8-6-1-6-93

3. Jaden Shirden, RB, Monmouth: 5-6-4-6-4-77

4. Matthew Sluka, QB, Holy Cross: 8-3-4-1-5-71

5. Davius Richard, QB, North Carolina Central: 2-7-3-4-2-57

6. Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire: 2-4-3-4-2-45

7. Isaiah Davis, RB, South Dakota State: 6-0-0-3-4-40

8.(tie) CJ Montes, QB, Fordham: 3-2-1-5-1-37

8.(tie) Mike DiLiello, QB, Austin Peay: 3-3-2-1-2-37

10. Jalen Coker, WR, Holy Cross: 1-3-1-4-4-32

11. Cam Miller, QB, North Dakota State: 0-2-6-1-1-29

12.(tie) Dymere Miller, WR, Monmouth: 1-1-4-0-3-24

12.(tie) Reese Poffenbarger, QB, UAlbany: 0-2-2-4-2-24

14. Lan Larison, RB, UC Davis: 0-0-4-3-2-20

15. Chedon James, WR, Idaho State: 0-2-2-1-3-19

16. Jamar Curtis, RB, Lafayette: 0-3-1-1-1-18

17. Cole Gonzales, QB, Western Carolina: 0-2-0-2-1-13

18.(tie) Gevani McCoy, QB, Idaho: 0-0-1-3-1-10

18.(tie) LaDarius Owens, RB, Texas Southern: 0-0-2-2-0-10

20. Sam Franklin, RB, UT Martin: 0-0-0-3-2-8

21.(tie) Michael Hiers, QB, Samford: 0-1-0-1-1-7

21.(tie) Ty James, WR, Mercer: 0-0-1-1-2-7

23. Zevi Eckhaus, QB, Bryant: 0-0-1-0-1-4

24.(tie) Hayden Hatten, WR, Idaho: 0-0-0-1-0-2

24.(tie) Jyran Mitchell, RB, Butler: 0-0-0-0-2-2

24.(tie) Parker McKinney, QB, Eastern Kentucky: 0-0-0-1-0-2

27. Brandon Porter, WR, UIW: 0-0-0-0-1-1

28.(tie) Darius Perrantes, QB, Duquesne: 0-0-0-0-0-0

28.(tie) Jake Wilcox, QB, Brown: 0-0-0-0-0-0

28.(tie) Jeremy Moussa, QB, Florida A&M: 0-0-0-0-0-0