Brandon Lawrence, National Contributor | December 08, 2015
2015 Offensive Player Of The Year
Marshaun Coprich – RB, Illinois State
After a breakout 2014 campaign in which Coprich led the FCS in rushing with 2,274 yards and was named a first-team all-American, the senior back was no longer a best-kept secret in 2015. Opponents keyed in on the workhorse runner defensively, but no matter how much attention was paid to him, this powerful ball carrier still was able to put up gaudy numbers.
Coprich followed up his monster 2014 season by carrying the ball 276 times for 1,720 yards and 20 touchdowns, tying Fordham back Chase Edmonds for second-most ground touchdowns in the country. His 6.2 yards per carry allowed the 5-foot-9 Coprich to gain 156.4 rushing ypg. He added 13 catches for 139 yards out of the backfield for good measure, serving as a major cog in leading Illinois State to a 9-2 record in the regular season.
Coprich helped his Redbirds earn the No. 2 overall seed in the 2015 playoff bracket.
Chase Edmonds – RB, Fordham
Talk about keeping with tradition. Edmonds, who was named the fourth recipient of the former Jerry Rice Award in 2014, given to the nation’s best freshman player, proved to everyone he wasn’t a one-year wonder. The sophomore running back for Fordham formed a weekly duel with Lamar ball carrier Kade Harrington during the regular season as fans watched the two top backs vie for statistical reign.
After losing a handful of major offensive pieces to graduation following the 2014 season, Fordham’s Edmonds made sure to pick up the slack by constantly putting up eye-catching numbers on the ground week after week. The back finished the year with 1,643 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 248 carries, giving him an average 149.4 ypg. His magnificent season started with a bang, accumulating 266 all-purpose yards and three rushing touchdowns in his Rams’ 37-35 upset of FBS member Army.
But it’s not just the rushing attack that had defenders fearing the 5-9 sophomore. Edmonds is an all-purpose threat, having caught 31 passes out of the backfield in 2015 for 383 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games played. Edmonds’s 169.2 all-purpose ypg rank fifth in the FCS.
Kade Harrington – RB, Lamar
Sometimes the rise from obscurity is much easier and faster than the rise to sheer dominance. Sometimes the two go hand-in-hand.
The aforementioned Harrington completed the latter in 2015 for his Lamar Cardinals, who finished in the middle of the Southland Conference pack but witnessed the rise of the most dominant FCS weapon in their own backfield. The junior running back thrashed all competition with eight consecutive games going over the 100-yard rushing barrier, including six times over 200 yards. Harrington and Edmonds each set the bar in the FCS this season with 347 rushing yards in a single game (Harrington against Abilene Christian). He finished the year as the nation’s leading rusher with 2,092 yards and 21 touchdowns on 266 carries, averaging an eye-popping 190.2 ypg.
Harrington also added 15 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games played, giving him the nation’s leading total of 213.4 all-purpose ypg. Not bad for someone who played in nine games a year ago and netted a total of 740 rushing yards.
Mark Iannotti – QB, Southern Illinois
It was a rough start for Iannotti’s Salukis, who lost three of their first four games in the 2015 campaign. But for what it’s worth, those three losses came by a grand total of five combined points (including a one-point loss to Big Ten power Indiana).
The senior Eastern Michigan transfer quarterback did everything he could to help his Missouri Valley Conference program stay afloat. Iannotti finished his senior season with 3,195 passing yards – tied for fourth in the country with Holy Cross’s Peter Pujals – and 24 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. His 290.5 passing ypg also ranked fourth in the country.
When defenders weren’t trying to contain Iannotti’s accurate aerial assault (65.6 percent completions), they were attempting to contain his adept ability to run the football. The signal caller toted the ball 179 times in 2015 for 716 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 65.1 rushing ypg – the best ground average on Southern Illinois.
Cooper Kupp – WR, Eastern Washington
There is no stopping Kupp, only the ability to contain him.
The junior receiver demonstrated his outstanding prowess in catching the football, regardless of whether or not he was open, in just about every contest this season. And it didn’t matter that Vernon Adams Jr. wasn’t throwing him the ball anymore. Kupp still hauled in a Big Sky Conference-record 114 receptions in 2015 for 1,642 yards (most in the country) and 19 touchdowns, averaging 149.3 receiving ypg.
But those numbers only begin to scratch the surface of what Kupp accomplished this season. In just three years in the FCS, Kupp already sits just two receiving touchdowns shy of the all-time career record (58), set by former New Hampshire pass catcher David Ball. He’s second on the all-time list with 4,764 career receiving yards, sitting only behind Elon’s Terrell Hudgins, who amassed 5,250 yards in his playing days. Kupp passed Jerry Rice to reach each feat.
Kupp announced recently he will return to Eastern Washington for his senior season, which means when all is said and done on his career Kupp will be the greatest pass catcher statistically in the history of the FCS.