Many talented players adorn the preseason watch list for the 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, announced Aug. 2.
Even more precise, many familiar names.
Eighteen of the 22 players were nominees for the outstanding offensive player of the year in the FCS last season, including 14 finalists and led by the recipient, Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State. This year, the record-setting quarterback will attempt to become the second two-time winner of the 31-year-old award, joining Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards in 2008 and 2009.The Payton Award, first handed out in 1987, has had 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 vote on 25 finalists following the regular season.
Briscoe, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound redshirt senior, set the FCS single-season record with 57 touchdown passes last year, helping Sam Houston State enjoy a perfect regular season, win the Southland Conference title and reach the FCS quarterfinals. He completed 315 of 503 passes (62.6 percent) and ranked second nationally in passing yards (4,602), passing yards per game (354) and passing efficiency (172.9).
Briscoe has all of his leading receivers back this season, but he will be challenged to win another Payton Award by the standout group of nominees. Included are Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud, the third-place finisher last year, and Fordham running back Chase Edmonds, who was fourth.
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Gubrud set the FCS single-season record with 5,160 passing yards and also ranked first in the nation in total offensive yards per game (411.9) and second in touchdown passes (48). Edmonds was first in the nation in rushing yards per game (163.5) and second in all-purpose yards per game (194.6) and points per game (10.9).
Also named to the watch list were quarterbacks Taryn Christion of South Dakota State, Case Cookus of Northern Arizona, Devlin Hodges of Samford, DeVante Kincade of Grambling State, Kyle Lauletta of Richmond, Anthony Lawrence of San Diego, Tyrell Maxwell of Gardner-Webb and Bryan Schor of 2016 FCS champion James Madison; running backs Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks of Albany, John Lovett of Princeton and Detrez Newsome of Western Carolina; fullback Joe Protheroe of Cal Poly; wide receivers Emmanuel Butler of Northern Arizona, Kamron Lewis of Saint Francis, Troy Pelletier of Lehigh, Justin Watson of Penn and Jake Wieneke of South Dakota State; tight end Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State; and offensive tackle Brandon Parker of North Carolina A&T.
The breakdown of the watch list by position: 10 quarterbacks, five wide receivers, four running backs, one fullback, one tight end and one offensive tackle. The Big Sky Conference had the most nominees with four, while CAA Football and the Missouri Valley Football Conference had three each.
Also this season, STATS will present the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year. STATS will hold its national awards banquet the night of Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the FCS national championship game.
The preseason nominees to the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List:
Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State, QB, R-Sr., 6-3, 220, Houston
Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona, WR, Sr., 6-4, 220, Phoenix
Taryn Christion, South Dakota State, QB, So., 6-2, 220, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Case Cookus, Northern Arizona, QB, R-So., 6-4, 200, Thousand Oaks, California
Chase Edmonds, Fordham, RB, Sr., 5-9, 210, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State, TE, R-Sr., 6-4, 255, Britton, South Dakota
Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington, QB, R-Jr., 6-3, 195, McMinnville, Oregon
Devlin Hodges, Samford, QB, R-Jr., 6-1, 213, Kimberly, Alabama
Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, Albany, RB, R-Jr., 5-9, 200, Newark, New Jersey
DeVante Kincade, Grambling State, QB, R-Sr., 6-1, 190, Dallas
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, QB, Sr., 6-3, 208, Exton, Pennsylvania
Anthony Lawrence, San Diego, QB, R-Jr., 6-1, 195, La Mesa, California
Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, WR, Jr., 6-4, 195, Fresno, California
John Lovett, Princeton, RB, Jr., 6-3, 220, Wantagh, New York
Tyrell Maxwell, Gardner-Webb, QB, Sr., 6-2, 220, Cordova, South Carolina
Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina, RB, Sr., 5-10, 210, Raeford, North Carolina
Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T, OT, R-Sr., 6-7, 300, Kannapolis, North Carolina
Troy Pelletier, Lehigh, WR, Sr., 6-3, 205, Deerfield, New Hampshire
Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly, FB, Sr., 6-0, 225, Concord, California
Bryan Schor, James Madison, QB, Sr., 6-2, 213, Milford, Pennsylvania
Justin Watson, Penn, WR, Sr., 6-3, 210, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State, WR, R-Sr., 6-4, 215, Maple Grove, Minnesota