After quarterback Chris Streveler was voted the Missouri Valley Conference’s offensive player of the year and broke the conference’s single-season record for passing yards, he nearly added another accolade to his college career.
Streveler was named the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award on Jan. 5 behind Sam Houston State quarterback, Jeremiah Briscoe.
The award is given to the most outstanding offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Many notable winners of this award have gone on to lead successful NFL careers, including the late Steve McNair (1994), Tony Romo (2002) and Jimmy Garoppolo (2013).
“He’s a good player. It was fun competing against him,” Streveler said of Briscoe. “The trip down to Frisco was such a great time, getting to share that with those people, even though we didn’t end up getting the trophy, it was still such a special memory and special weekend, and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Despite not winning the award, Streveler had a consistent season this year. According to GoYotes, Streveler was the only FCS quarterback who ranked top 10 in passing yards (2nd, 4,134), total touchdowns (3rd, 43), touchdown/interception ratio (3rd, 4:1), completion percentage (8th, 65.7 percent) and pass efficiency rating (8th, 156.51). He had over 2,000 more passing yards this season than last season, while only throwing eight interceptions.
One of his best performances of the season came against the Nicholls State Colonels in the opening round of the FCS playoffs. According to GoYotes, Streveler completed 25 of 37 passes for 378 yards, and threw four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 11 times for 34 yards, as the Coyotes defeated the Colonels 38-31.
For Streveler, his preparation for that game was the same, he said.
“You don’t really approach that game any differently. You don’t want to put anymore pressure on yourself or do anything you haven’t done. It was just exciting to be in the moment and have fun out there with the guys,” Streveler said. “It’s just any other game.”
Head coach Bob Nielson played an important role in his success, Streveler said.
“Coach Nielson is one of the best coaches in college football,” Streveler said. “His level of consistency…helped me elevate my play and be more consistent, because of his attitude.”
The passionate support from players, coaches and fans has made Streveler’s time at USD unforgettable, he said.
“It’s just such a special atmosphere. These past two years here have just been the best two years of my football career,” Streveler said. “Just the overall support that everyone gives, and having the chance to be a captain on a team is just really something special. It was just a really fun year.”
Despite all of his success this season, he said his favorite personal achievement was being voted team captain by his teammates.
“That’s something that’s voted on by your teammates, and at the end of the day, all that other stuff is voted on by other people that aren’t there with you everyday, working,” Streveler said. “To be elected captain by your teammates is really something special. They’re there with you everyday. They put the same work in.”
Junior wide receiver Dakarai Allen said he recognizes Streveler’s work ethic.
“Chris is a horse. He just keeps going and going,” Allen said. “There’s never no stop; he’s just an overall athlete.”
Sophomore running back Joe Schlager said Streveler elevates the team to higher levels.
“His work ethic and leadership was a big reason for the rest of the team’s success in 2017 and going forward,” Schlager said. “Chris helped set the bar for the level of excellence this program has never seen at the FCS level. I think I speak for all of USD football when I say that we were more than happy to have him around.”
Even though he was happy to be a finalist for the award, Streveler said he didn’t view that moment as an individual achievement.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but I say it all the time. I really look at it as a team award,” he said. “You don’t get selected as a finalist for one of those things as a quarterback if your team’s not winning and there’s not a lot of guys around you making plays…it really is a team award.”