TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and SPORTyler announced today Bailey Zappe, quarterback, Western Kentucky University as the recipient of the 2021 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award presented by Earl Campbell.

Zappe received the award during The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award banquet Wednesday.

“I’m honored to present the award to Bailey Zappe,” Earl Campbell said. “All of these players had incredible seasons. They all deserved their place as a finalist.”

WKU quarterback Bailey Zappe finished the 2021 campaign by completing 475-of 686 passes (69.2%) for 5,987 yards, with 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He leads the nation in yards by 1,226 (next-closest is Mississippi State’s Will Rogers’ 4,741) and touchdowns by 16 (next-closest is Alabama’s Bryce Young’s 46). With 422 yards and six touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 59-38 victory over App State in the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl, Zappe set new all-time single-season FBS records, passing Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons, who had 5,833 yards in 13 games in 2003 and LSU’s Joe Burrow, who had 60 touchdowns in 15 games in 2019.

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 18: Bailey Zappe #4 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers looks to pass against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Although Zappe has racked up awards and recognition all season long, it was the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award that first put him in the spotlight. On August 5, he became the first WKU player in the award’s nine seasons to be recognized as a Watch List member. Throughout the campaign, Zappe earned weekly Honorable Mention status following seven of the Hilltoppers’ eight regular season victories.

Zappe went on to be a Manning Award Finalist, Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award Semifinalist. He was Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week four times and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player by the 14 head coaches. On November 15, Zappe became the first quarterback to accept an invitation to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he will join fellow standouts North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Nevada’s Carson Strong and Liberty’s Malik Willis.

With a C-USA Championship Game-record and career-high 577 yards at UTSA on December 3, Zappe became only the sixth quarterback in FBS history to achieve a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown campaign. In addition, his 577 yards marked the first FBS passing performance of 560 or more yards since UCF’s Dillon Gabriel had 601 at Memphis on October 17, 2020.

From 2020-to-2021, the Hilltoppers went from scoring 19.0 points per game to 44.2 (+25.2 increase leads the nation), scoring 2.0 offensive touchdowns per game to 5.4 (+3.4) and 164.3 passing yards per game to 433.7 (+269.4). The 433.7 passing yards per game is the second-best number in FBS over the past five years (2019 Washington State averaged 437.2). In 14 games this season, Zappe had 90 passing “chunk” plays of 20 or more yards with 25 of those going for touchdowns. Comparatively, in 12 games in 2020, WKU had 15 “chunk” passing plays with three of those going for touchdowns.

incere McCormick, UTSA, RB, Junior – Converse, TX (Judson HS) Conf-USA

Abram Smith, Baylor, RB, Senior – Abilene, TX (Abilene HS) Big 12

Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State, RB, Sophomore – Round Rock, TX (Cedar Ridge HS) Big 12

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State, WR, Junior – Austin, TX (Lake Travis HS) Big Ten

Sponsors for The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award banquet are: City of Tyler, BMW of Tyler, Brookshire Grocery Company, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Clements Fluids Management, LLC, Patterson Commercial Property Group, R.W. Fair Foundation, Southside Bank, TDI Air Conditioning/Sharon and James Wynne, Ted W. Walters, Austin Bank, Prothro, Wilhelmi, & Company, Tyler Morning Telegraph, American State Bank, Texas Bank and Trust, Tyler Junior College, and University of Texas at Tyler.