PRESS RELEASE

Nominees announced, voting open 2014 Walter Payton Achievement Award

ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, announced six nominees for the 2014 Walter Payton Achievement Award, granted annually to a player from each team participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney. This year’s match up features the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Alabama A&M University Bulldogs of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) – set to faceoff on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 11:45 a.m. ET on ESPN. This year’s game – the 10th annual – will be played at Bright House Networks Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Florida, while the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium undergoes renovations.

The 2014 nominees include senior offensive lineman Alan Cruz, redshirt junior defensive lineman David Dagrin and junior placekicker Jordan Puente of the Alabama A&M University Bulldogs. Representing the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies are sophomore wide receiver Denzel Keyes, redshirt senior wide receiver Quentin Todd and redshirt junior offensive lineman William Ray Robinson III.

“We are proud to announce a great group of nominees for the 2014 Walter Payton Achievement Award,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Events. “All of these student-athletes are well deserving and I am confident that the winners will uphold the standard of excellence that Walter Payton set decades ago for HBCU football.”

Started in 2008, the award honors one of football’s greatest players – Payton, who ended his career as the NFL’s leading rusher and starred at Jackson State, a SWAC school, from 1971-74.

Finalists are selected by a committee consisting of academic advisers and coaches from the two participating schools. Winners will be selected via online voting, open now through Aug. 20.

Award winners will be announced on Aug. 30 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. during the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Welcome Reception prior to the game. Several additional events will take place around the game, including a high school career panel, pep rally and the halftime Battle of the Bands.

Past winners of the Walter Payton Achievement Award include: Jonathan Pillow of Florida A&M University and Kevin Eugene of Mississippi Valley State University (2013); Bobby Wenzig of Alabama State University and Arlen McCray-Nibbs of Bethune-Cookman University (2012); Nesly Marcellon of Bethune-Cookman University and Raheem Cardwell of Prairie View A&M University (2011); Kevin Green of Delaware State University and Gary Hollimon of Southern University and A&M College (2010); Van Phillips of Grambling State University and Zachary Middleton of South Carolina State University (2009); Kevin Teel of Hampton University and Marcus Smith of Jackson State University (2008).

Tickets to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney can be purchased through Ticketmaster online, by calling 800-745-3000 or by logging on to www.meacswacchallenge.com.

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Events. For more information about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, or to join the event’s following on Facebook and Twitter, please visit the event’s official Web site at www.meacswacchallenge.com or at www.preview.espnevents.com.


  ESPN Events ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program. Collegiate Football AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth) Collegiate Basketball AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s  Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (TBD); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.) For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages. ESPN Media Contact: Rachel Margolis Siegal at 860-766-2798 or [email protected]