University of Central Arkansas head football coach Clint Conque and junior quarterback Wynrick Smothers both finished in the Top 12 for national awards announced this week.
Conque, who has completed his 13th season with the Bears, was eighth in the voting for the Eddie Robinson Award that goes to the top coach at the NCAA FCS level. Conque, the winningest coach in UCA history with 98 career victories, is a three-time finalist for the award.
Conque took the Bears to the second round of the NCAA Division I Playoffs for the second consecutive year this season. Conque received 11 first-place votes from a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, sports writers and other dignitaries, the fourth-highest total among the 20 finalists.
Former UCA great Monte Coleman, head coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, was 11th in the voting. Craig Bohl from North Dakota State won the award after leading the Bison to their second straight FCS championship game.
Smothers, a junior from Destrehan, La., finished 11th in the voting for the Walter Payton Award for the outstanding player at the FCS level. Smothers set school records for single-season total offense (3,552 yards), season completions (277), season pass attempts (451) and total offense per game (296.0). He was second in passing touchdowns (31).
Smothers was the Southland Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-SLC selection after leading the Bears to a 9-3 record and a Southland Conference co-championship.
Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke won this year’s Payton Award. Smothers finished behind two quarterbacks whom the Bears beat in head-to-head matchups this season, Murray State’s Casey Brockman and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Sam Houston State running back Tim Flanders was 13th.