Walter Payton Award Watch List starts the race

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - The Heisman of the FCS, it's a revered award that's worth striking a pose over.

On Wednesday, the preseason watch list of 25 players was announced for the 2018 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award.

It includes at least one player from all 13 FCS conferences as well as 14 players who were nominees or finalists last season, when former Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe became just the second two-time winner of the nation's leading offensive player of the year award in the subdivision.

The Payton Award, first presented in 1987, has watched past winners such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Brian Finneran, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp move on to the NFL.

The watch list will have updates during the season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winner following the regular season.

The players named to the preseason watch list:

Tyrie Adams, Western Carolina, QB, Jr., 6-2, 180

2017: 189 of 305, 2,294 yards, 22 TDs, 8 INTs; 746 rushing yards, 2 TDs; All-SoCon second team

Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State, RB, Sr., 5-11, 216

2017: 234 carries, 1,216 yards, 12 TDs; 15 total TDs; All-Missouri Valley second team

Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh, RB, Sr., 5-11, 230

2017: 247 carries, 1,388 yards, 18 TDs; 22 total TDs; Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year; STATS FCS All-America first team

Chandler Burks, Kennesaw State, QB, Sr., 5-10, 187

2017: 1,103 rushing yards, 18 TDs; 76 of 155, 1,307 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs; Big South Offensive Player of the Year

Taryn Christion, South Dakota State, QB, Sr., 6-2, 225

2017: 249 of 428, 3,515 yards, 35 TDs, 14 INTs; 500 rushing yards, 9 TDs; All-Missouri Valley second team

Case Cookus, Northern Arizona, QB, Jr., 6-4, 200

2017: 275 of 474, 3,413 passing yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs; All-Big Sky first team

Davion Davis, Sam Houston State, WR, Sr., 5-11, 180

2017: 78 receptions, 1,206 yards, 17 TDs; 21 total TDs; Southland Offensive Player of the Year; STATS FCS All-America second team

Keelan Doss, UC Davis, WR, Sr., 6-3, 210

2017: 115 receptions, 1,499 yards, 7 TDs; Big Sky Offensive Player of Year; Walter Payton Award third place; STATS FCS All-America first team

Zane Dudek, Yale, RB, So., 5-9, 190

2017: 159 carries, 1,133 yards, 15 TDs; 22 receptions, 179 yards, 1 TD; Ivy League Rookie of the Year and first team

Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington, QB, Sr., 6-2, 205

2017: 261 of 422, 3,342 yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs, 5 rushing TDs; All-Big Sky second team

A.J. Hines, Duquesne, RB, Jr., 5-11, 225

2017: 182 carries, 1,038 yards, 10 TDs; All-Northeast Conference first team

Devlin Hodges, Samford, QB, Sr., 6-1, 205

2017: 347 of 528, 3,983 yards, 31 TDs, 11 INTs; SoCon Offensive Player of the Year

Anthony Lawrence, San Diego, QB, Sr., 6-1, 195

2017: 245 of 374, 3,131 yards, 33 TDs, 3 INTs; Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year

Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, WR, Sr., 6-4, 195

2017: 65 receptions, 909 yards, 6 TDs; All-Northeast Conference first team

John Lovett, Princeton, QB, Sr., 6-3, 225

2017: Injured; 2016: 411 rushing yards, 20 TDs; 51 of 77, 582 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs; 26 receptions, 235 yards, 1 TD; Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year

Jake Maier, UC Davis, QB, Jr., 6-0, 200

2017: 306 of 446, 3,669 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs; All-Big Sky third team

Brad Mayes, Lehigh, QB, Sr., 6-2, 220

2017: 292 of 455, 3,886 yards, 31 TDs, 12 INT; All-Patriot League first team

Tevin McCaster, Youngstown State, RB, Sr., 5-10, 195

2017: 221 carries, 1,066 yards, 13 TDs; All-Missouri Valley second team

Neil O'Connor, New Hampshire, WR, Sr., 5-11, 190

2017: 97 receptions, 1,396 yards, 10 TDs; All-CAA first team; STATS FCS All-America second team

Lamar Raynard, North Carolina A&T, QB, Sr., 6-4, 200

2017: 209 of 328, 2,932, 27 TDs, 7 INTs, 161.7 passing efficiency; MEAC Offensive Player of the Year

P.J. Simmons, Alcorn State, RB, Sr., 5-10, 190

2017: 80 carries, 687 yards, 7 TDs

Daniel Smith, Campbell, QB, So., 6-0, 200

2017: 1,272 rushing yards, 12 TDs; 136 of 255, 1,889 yards, 18 TDs, 7 INTs; Pioneer Football League Offensive Freshman of the Year

Nathan Stewart, Sam Houston State, WR, Jr., 5-11, 175

2017: 72 receptions, 1,648 yards, 14 TDs; All-Southland first team

Easton Stick, North Dakota State, QB, Sr., 6-2, 221

2017: 164 of 264, 2,466 yards, 28 TDs, 8 INTs, 169.5 passing efficiency; 663 rushing yards, 12 TDs; MOP of 2017 FCS championship game

Marquis Terry, Southeast Missouri State, RB, Sr., 5-6, 179

2017: 239 carries, 1,076 yards, 7 TDs; 20 receptions, 109 yards; All-Ohio Valley Conference first team

The breakdown of the watch list by position: 13 quarterbacks, seven running backs and five wide receivers. The Big Sky and Missouri Valley conferences have the most preseason nominees with four each.

Also this season, STATS will present the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Updated August 1, 2018

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