GRAMBLING, La. — Marian University senior running back Charles Salary (La Porte) has been named the 2019 NAIA National Player of the Year, as announced Thursday evening at the NAIA Championship banquet.
"This really means a lot," said Salary. "I'm truly grateful and I thank God for the opportunity he has given me. This is a great award not just for me, but for our entire offense. I wouldn't be here without them. We play good, complementary football and they put me in great situations."
The first Knight to earn the honor, Salary has put the finishing touches on a remarkable career this season. He was named an NAIA First Team All-American and the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League Offensive Player of the Year as well as being tabbed the NAIA National Player of the Week twice.
Salary finished the regular season with 1,240 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns. He also caught nine balls for 133 yards and a score. His workload was heavy when Marian needed him most, and he responded. Against No. 3 St. Francis, he carried the ball 42 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. After the bye week, he crushed No. 10 Concordia for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries.
In the playoffs, he's continued to dominate. In a semifinal win over Lindsey Wilson he ran the ball 32 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Salary ranks second in the NAIA in total rushing at 1,586 yards including playoff games and ranks fifth in rushing yards per game (132.2) and all-purpose yards (1,728). Heading into the national championship game, he has 18 total touchdowns and has six games with two or more, while going over the century mark in rushing yards seven times this season. Salary will leave Marian as the second all-time leader in rushing yards, trailing only Tevin Lake.
"Charles has had an amazing career as a Knight, continuing the tradition of great running backs at Marian," head coach Mark Henninger said. "He has been a workhorse this year with the ability to completely take control of a football game by playing the game fast and physical. Watching Charles work and develop from being a scout team running back as a freshman, to being named National Player of the Year as a senior has been a blessing and it tells you everything you need to know about the type of person and player he is. He is absolutely deserving of this honor."
Salary and the second-ranked Knights face No. 1 Morningside at 6:05 tonight for the national title.
NAIA National Championship
AT EDDIE J. ROBINSON STADIUM, RUSTON, LA.
No. 2 Marian (12-0) vs. No. 1 Morningside (13-0), 6:05 p.m.