Walter Payton Watch List includes two-time finalist Gage Gubrud - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Walter Payton Watch List includes two-time finalist Gage Gubrud

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

Already a two-time finalist, quarterback Gage Gubrud once again starts the season as a bona fide candidate for the highest honor in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
 
The senior from McMinnville, Ore., was among 25 players nationally and five from the Big Sky Conference selected Wednesday (Aug. 1) to the Watch List for the Walter Payton Award to be presented by STATS at the end of the 2018 season to the top offensive player in FCS. One day ago, Gubrud was a third team choice on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America squad.
 
The other three players in the Big Sky selected to the Watch List include quarterbacks Case Cookus (Northern Arizona), and Jake Maier (UC Davis), as well as wide receiver Keelan Doss (UC Davis). Doss is the reigning Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP, an honor Gubrud shared with former Eagle wide receiver Cooper Kupp in 2016. Doss was also the preseason choice to repeat as MVP in 2018.
 
Gubrud could break a variety of EWU and Big Sky Conference career records in 2018. He is 17-6 in 23 games as a starter, and in 27 total games as an Eagle he has 9,441 yards of total offense and 8,568 passing yards. A duplication of last year's totals (3,578 total offense and 3,342 passing in 10 games played) and he'll challenge Big Sky records owned by former Eagle Matt Nichols (13,308 total offense and 12,616 passing).
 
"It's not about stats – they help tell the story but the story can have different angles," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "His path from 2016 to 2017 was different, but now he is as senior quarterback in a pass-first offense. I'm excited to see what he's going to do this year. We are going to give him the ball and go win games."
 
Earlier this summer Gubrud was selected by Athlon Sports as the lone quarterback on its 27-player preseason All-America team. He was also a third team preseason All-America selection by Hero Sports, and joined teammates Jay-Tee Tiuli and running back Antoine Custer Jr. as preseason All-Big Sky selections. Gubrud is also one of four Eagle seniors serving as co-captain for the 2018 season, joining safety Mitch Fettig, linebacker Ketner Kupp and center Spencer Blackburn.
 
As a first-year starter in 2016, Gubrud earned FCS Player of the Year honors from the Football Club of Columbus and shared Big Sky Conference MVP honors with four-time All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Gubrud was third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award and was selected to six FCS All-America teams after leading EWU to a 12-2 record and perfect 8-0 Big Sky Conference record.
 
His record-breaking season included the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record for passing yards with 5,160. In all, he broke three FCS records, seven Big Sky Conference marks and 19 EWU records. He finished with 48 touchdown passes and a Big Sky record of 5,766 yards of total offense, and was also the team's leading rusher with 606 yards and five more scores.
 
In 2017, Gubrud earned second team All-Big Sky honors from the league's head coaches. He was the College Sports Madness FCS Offensive Player of the Week for the second-straight week after directing EWU's fourth-quarter rally in a 41-38 win at UC Davis (10/7/17), one week after a win versus Sacramento State (9/30/17).
 
He also won his third-straight Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor for his performance against Sac State – the sixth time overall in his career he has been honored and the first Eagle to win it three consecutive weeks.
 
Gubrud was second in FCS in total offense per game (357.8), and was fourth in passing yards per game (334.2), third in FCS in points responsible for per game (19.4), fourth in completions per game (26.1) and 13th in total passing touchdowns (26).
 
Gubrud now seeks to maintain a pair of EWU career records. He remains the Eastern career leader in passing yards per game (317.3) and total offense per game (349.7), and is second in completion percentage (.651). He is also fourth in touchdown passes (74), fourth in completions (654) and sixth in attempts (1,005). Gubrud now has a school-record 10 400-yard passing performances in his career.

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