Zachary D. Middleton Selected As Walter Payton Achievement Award Winner

Friday, September 4, 2009

Zachary MiddletonRecently, SC State’s Student Government Association president, Zachary D. Middleton, was awarded the Walter Payton Achievement Award. Middleton will be honored on Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 at 8 p.m. during the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff Banquet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Walter Payton Achievement Award is given annually to a player from each school participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney. This award was first presented in 2008. The inaugural award recipients were Jackson State University linebacker Marcus Smith, and Hampton University wide receiver Kevin Teel.

Nominees and finalists for the Walter Payton Achievement Award are selected by a committee consisting of academic advisers and coaches. This year marks the first time that winners were determined by on-line fan voting. “Receiving this award is truly a blessing. I want to thank everyone who cast their vote and nominated me to receive such a prestigious award,” said Middleton.

Recipients of the Walter Payton Achievement Award must be high achievers in the classroom and on the football field. Like Payton, a high achiever who was a top-scoring football player at Jackson State University from 1971 to 1974, and earned his bachelor’s degree in communications, Middleton also strives for excellence. In addition to his duties as Student Government Association president, Middleton is the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Changing the Perception, Inc., a non- profit organization responsible for transforming the negative perceptions that are associated with certain aspects of the Orangeburg, S.C. community.

Of Middleton, SC State’s head coach Buddy Pough said, “a consummate professional and the most dependable and reliable football player I’ve been around during my career.”

Other finalists for the Walter Payton Achievement Award from SC State included Otis Key (Sr., DL) and Marshall McFadden (Sr., LB). Grambling’s finalists were Gabriel Fleming (So., DB) and Stephen Tripp (Sr., LB).