The final horn had barely sounded when the accolades started coming in for members of the Stetson football team on Sunday night.
Dawg linebacker Donald Payne and kicker/punter James LaGamma were recognized for their performances against Warner in the Hatters’ 31-3 season-opening victory by earning Pioneer Football League Player of the Week honors.
Payne was named Defensive Player of the Week while LaGamma shared the special teams award with Mercer senior kicker John Shutter.
Payne followed up by being named national Freshman of the Week on Monday by The Sports Network, which is the source for all things FCS.
Payne was an all-around force as Stetson returned to football with a weather- delayed, 31-3 victory against Warner. He recovered a fumble for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after Saturday's game was resumed in the second quarter on Sunday. The nephew of former 15-year NFL defensive end Ezra Johnson, Payne finished the game with eight tackles, including five solos, and three tackles for loss, including a sack.
He was recognized along with Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, Charleston Southern linebacker Calvin Bryant, Eastern Illinois rover Alex McNulty and Samford running back/return specialist Fabian Truss.
With the weather delay, the Hatters will have a short week to get ready for the second game of the season, which is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start this Saturday against Florida Tech at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium. The game has already been announced as a sellout with a stadium capacity of 4,980.
Video of the game will be available, free of charge, through the Florida Tech Athletics web site, www.floridatechsports.com/live .