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

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 or at