PHILADELPHIA, Pa. --- Tennessee State University football players Charles Anthony and Paul Thomas have been named to the Sports Network's first "Payton Watch" and "Buchanan Watch" lists for the 2004 season.
A total of 32 players have been chosen by The Sports Network as official "Payton Watch" and "Buchanan Battle" members. The "Payton Watch" and "Buchanan Watch" pages, which can be found at The Sports Network's website (www.sportsnetwork.com) keep track of the quest for the 18th Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the top player in I-AA football, and the 10th Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the top defensive player in I-AA.
The honors will be presented at the 18th annual I-AA College Football Awards on Thursday, December 16 in Chattanooga on the eve of the 2003 I-AA National Championship.
The Eddie Robinson Award, honoring I-AA's top coach, and the Sports Network Cup, bestowed upon the nation's best I-AA mid-major program, will also be presented on Dec. 16.
Anthony is one of 10 players who appeared on last year's final Walter Payton Award ballot and among this year's initial pool of 16 Payton candidates. Along with the all-time TSU leading rusher, the group includes the 2003 Payton winner, Colgate running back Jamaal Branch. Branch ran for an NCAA record 2,326 yards and tied a I-AA record with 29 rushing touchdowns in 2003. Grambling State quarterback Bruce Eugene, who has finished in the top three in the Payton voting the past two seasons, also returns to the list. Eugene threw for 3,805 yards and 34 touchdowns a season ago.
Other players are Georgia Southern running back Jermaine Austin, Yale quarterback Alvin Cowan, Northern Iowa running back Terrance Freeney, Valparaiso wide receiver Rob Giancola, Samford wide receiver Efrem Hill, Northern Arizona quarterback Jason Murrietta and Maine running back Marcus Williams all return to the watch list.
Thomas, a senior defensive end emerges on the list after leading the OVC in quarterback sacks and tackles for loss in his first season with the Tigers in 2003. Four players, including three linebackers, who appeared on last year's final Buck Buchanan Award ballot, are among this year's 16 Buchanan candidates. Illinois State's Boomer Grigsby, Cal Poly's Jordan Beck, Northeastern's Liam Ezekiel and Southern Illinois safety Alexis Moreland are each returnees to the Buchanan Battle list. Grigsby, who made 179 tackles for the second straight season and finished second in the voting, is the leading returning vote getter. Idaho State defensive end Jared Allen, a fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, was the 2003 Buck Buchanan winner.
The official "Payton Watch" and "Buchanan Watch" lists will undergo three revisions prior to the distribution of ballots on November 22. The first revisions will be announced October 6th, the second November 3, and the third just prior to the distribution of ballots. The ballots will be mailed electronically to the media and I-AA sports information directors selected for the voting process on November 22, and will be due Wednesday, November 24. The top three finalists (in terms of votes received) for the Walter Payton Award will be invited to attend the presentation in Chattanooga with the winner of that Award not announced until the event.
Following are the 32 current members of both the "Payton Watch" and "Buchanan Battle" lists, with additional information on each player, as well as history and facts about each of the I-AA awards, available at www.sportsnetwork.com.
"Payton Watch" Candidates (Aug. 30)
Charles Anthony, RB, Tennessee State
Jermaine Austin, RB, Georgia Southern
Adam Bergen, TE, Lehigh
Jamaal Branch, RB, Colgate
Alvin Cowan, QB, Yale
Bruce Eugene, QB, Grambling State
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Harvard
Terrance Freeney, RB, UNI
Rob Giancola, WR, Valparaiso
Efrem Hill, WR, Samford
Vincent Jackson, WR, Northern Colorado
Erik Meyer, QB, Eastern Washington
Jason Murrietta, QB, Northern Arizona
Alonzo Nix, WR, Chattanooga
Craig Ochs, QB, Montana
Marcus Williams, RB, Maine
"Buchanan Watch" Candidates (Aug. 30)
Lee Basinger, DL, Wofford
Jordan Beck, LB, Cal Poly
Antoine Bethea, DB, Howard
Roger Cooper, LB, Montana State
Nick DiPadova, LB, Southern Utah
Liam Ezekiel, LB, Northeastern
Brady Fosmark, DL, Weber State
Boomer Grigsby, LB, Illinois State
Sidney Haugabrook, DB, Delaware
John Paul Jones, DL, McNeese State
Mike Killian, LB, Furman
Tad Kornegay, DB, Fordham
Alexis Moreland, S, Southern Illinois
Kevin Talley, LB, Norfolk State
Paul Thomas, DL, Tennessee State
Mario Williams, DB, Gardner-Webb