"I want to say thanks and this is such an honor," said Demarais. "I am very grateful for my team and the impact they have made in my life. I want to finally recognize my six offensive linemen, who are just as much a part of this honor."
The native of Malta, Mont., becomes the fourth Fighting Saint and the first since linebacker Owen Koeppen in 2008. The four accolades ties the most amount of any NAIA institution, since the award was dished out in 1997.
Demarais has churned out a NAIA-best 1,748 rushing yards on 312 attempts for a 134.5 average per game. That rushing total is the most in the NAIA since Derrick Ward finished the 2003 season with 2,061. He has reached the 100-yard mark in 10 games, including a season-high 234-yard effort against Montana Western on Sept. 17.
Demarais was named to the American Football Coaches' Association All-America Team on Wednesday. He was the the seventh Fighting Saint to be honored as All-American in as many years. Spearheading a rushing offense to rank fourth in the NAIA (253.1 yards per game), Demarais has scored 21 touchdowns (19 rushing, two receiving). He was recognized as the Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Year for his accomplishments.
Demarais is the 12th player to receive the NAIA Player of the Year honor since the award was first presented in 1997, with two athletes repeating. Overall, there have been 10 offensive players and two on the defensive side to be recognized.
No. 2 Carroll takes on No. 5 Saint Xavier (Ill.) in the NAIA National Championship on Saturday from Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga. Kick-off is set for 4:30 p.m. EST with the game televised live on CBS Sports Network.
RAWLINGS-NAIA NATIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1997 - Bo Hurley, Findlay (Ohio)
1998 - Jack Williams, Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
1999 - Eddie Eviston, Georgetown (Ky.)
2000 - Eddie Eviston, Georgetown (Ky.)
2001 - Eddie Eviston, Georgetown (Ky.)
2002 - Nick Kortan, Sioux Falls (S.D.)
2003 - Tyler Emmert, Carroll (Mont.)
2004 - Cory Jacquay, St. Francis (Ind.)
2005 - Tyler Emmert, Carroll (Mont.)
2006 - Brian Kurtz, St. Francis (Ind.)
2007 - Chad Cavender, Sioux Falls (S.D.)
2008 - Owen Koeppen, Carroll (Mont.)
2009 - Lorenzo Brown, Sioux Falls (S.D.)
2010 - Jon Ryan, Sioux Falls (S.D.)
2011 - Chance Demarais, Carroll (Mont.)