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Sports Network Announces Their Player of the Year Watch Lists
Six finalists return to 2011 Walter Payton Award Watch List
The race for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, sponsored by Fathead.com, kicked off Monday with The Sports Network’s announcement that six returning finalists from last season headline a stellar 20-player Watch List for the Sports Network’s top individual FCS honor.
The Payton Award will celebrate its 25th anniversary this season and be presented at the company’s national awards banquet Thursday night, Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.
This season’s winner will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Steve McNair, John Friesz, Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran, Armanti Edwards and 2010 winner Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin.
Appalachian State quarterback DeAndre Presley joined Moses at the national awards banquet as the third-place finalist and returns to the Watch List as a senior. Also returning, presumably headed to banner seasons again, are Colgate sophomore running back Nate Eachus, who was sixth; Montana State sophomore quarterback DeNarius McGhee, who was seventh; Jackson State senior quarterback Casey Therriault, who was ninth; Liberty senior quarterback Mike Brown, who was 11th; and Wofford junior fullback Eric Breitenstein, who was 19th.
The 2011 Watch List includes 11 quarterbacks. The other seven are seniors B.J. Coleman of Chattanooga, Josh McGregor of Jacksonville, Bo Levi Mitchell of reigning FCS champion Eastern Washington and Tirrell Rennie of Northern Iowa, and juniors Casey Brockman of Murray State, Thomas DeMarco of Old Dominion and Brad Sorensen of Southern Utah.
Joining Eachus and Breitenstein in the backfield are senior running backs Jonathan Grimes of William & Mary, Mike Mayhew of North Carolina A&T and D.J. McNorton of North Dakota State, as well as junior Jamaine Cook of Youngstown State and sophomore Andrew Pierce of Delaware.
The Watch List also includes two wide receivers, Liberty senior Chris Summers and Eastern Washington junior Brandon Kaufman.
Among the returning finalists, Presley is coming off a junior season in which he threw for 2,631 yards and 21 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,039 yards and 13 touchdowns. Eachus led the FCS in carries (317) and rushing yards (1,871) and tied for the national high with 22 touchdowns. McGhee, who was the only freshman to be a Payton Award finalist last season, completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 3,163 yards and 23 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
Therriault accounted for 41 touchdowns (31 passing, 10 rushing) and was third in the FCS in passing yards per game (312.4) and total offense (327.8 ypg). Brown led the FCS in total offense with 346.4 yards per game (2,956 passing, 854 rushing) and was seventh in passer efficiency (149.6). Breitenstein paced the FCS’ No. 1-ranked rushing offense with a Wofford-record 1,639 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The Payton Award Watch List will undergo revision during the 2011 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation.
Six finalists return to 2011 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List
The Buchanan Award is in its 17th season and will be presented to the company’s FCS outstanding defensive player at their national awards banquet Thursday night, Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.
This season’s winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis, Kroy Biermann and 2010 winner J.C. Sherritt of Eastern Washington.
Wofford defensive end Ameet Pall tied for second in the voting last season and returns to the Watch List as a senior. Also returning, presumably headed to banner seasons again, are New Hampshire junior linebacker Matt Evans, who was fourth; Massachusetts senior linebacker Tyler Holmes, who was fifth; San Diego senior defensive end Mario Kurn, who was sixth; Georgia Southern junior nose tackle Brent Russell, who was 12th; and Montana senior cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who was 19th.
The most-represented position is linebacker with six. In addition to Evans and Holmes, the others are seniors Kadarron Anderson of Furman and A.J. Storms of Idaho State, and juniors Keith Pough of Howard and Derek Rose of Northwestern State.
There are five defensive ends. Joining Pall and Kurn are seniors Brian McNally of New Hampshire and Zack Nash of Sacramento State, and junior Ben Obaseki of Indiana State.
Also from the defensive line are senior tackles Renard Williams of reigning FCS champion Eastern Washington and Ben Boothby of Northern Iowa, who join Russell.
The Watch List has six senior defensive backs. Five are cornerbacks - Johnson, Jeremy Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky, Moses Ellis of Prairie View A&M, Asa Jackson of Cal Poly and Ryan Steed of Furman - and one is a strong safety, Matt Johnson of Eastern Washington.
Among the returning vote-getters, Pall finished eighth in the FCS after collecting 22.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Evans was the only sophomore on last year’s ballot, posting 156 tackles for the second-highest single- season total in New Hampshire history and finishing fifth in the FCS in tackles per game (12.0). Holmes had 110 tackles, including 12 for loss, and five interceptions for the Minutemen, who are playing their final season in the FCS this year.
Also, Kurn led the FCS with 17 sacks and had 27 tackles for loss. Russell helped Georgia Southern reach the FCS semifinals last season, while totaling 71 tackles, including 18.5 for loss and eight sacks, with five quarterback hurries. Johnson enters his senior season with 13 career interceptions, including four last year.
The Buchanan Award Watch List will undergo revision during the 2011 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead.com. The Payton Award (FCS outstanding player) and Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) are celebrating their 25th anniversaries, while the Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) is in its inaugural season.
By Craig Haley, Sports Network