NASHVILLE --- Senior Chris Rowland has been added to the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List. On Wednesday, the list grew from the original preseason group of 25 to 41 for the honor named for legendary Hall of Fame running back. Since 1987 the award has been bestowed upon the offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
Rowland leads the FCS in four categories, all purpose yards (202.0), receiving yards (1,234), receiving yards per game (137.1) and receptions per game (9.9). Rowland also ranks 19th in kickoff returns (26.1) and 23rd in punt returns (9.5). Rowland’s 89 receptions ranks eighth all time in Ohio Valley Conference play and is 47 behind the OVC and NCAA record of 136. The senior’s yardage for the season is seventh all time in OVC play and 430 away from the top mark of 1,664.
The Nolensville, Tenn. will look to make the list of finalists for the award and become the first Tiger since Charles Anthony in 2004 to be in final consideration for the honor. Anthony also earned a spot on the final list in 2003.
Joining Rowland on the watch list were quarterbacks Kevin Davidson of Princeton, Felix Harper of Alcorn State, Trey Lance of North Dakota State, Kurt Rawlings of Yale, Reid Sinnett of San Diego, Breylin Smith of Central Arkansas, Daniel Smith of Villanova, Ryan Stanley of Florida A&M, Kevin Thomson of Sacramento State, Aaron Winchester of Central Connecticut State and Bailey Zappe of Houston Baptist; running backs Pete Guerriero of Monmouth, Jah-Maine Martin of North Carolina A&T, Alex Ramsey of VMI and Pierre Strong Jr. of South Dakota State.
Preseason nominees were quarterbacks Tyrie Adams of Western Carolina, Kenji Bahar of Monmouth, Eric Barriere of Eastern Washington, Grant Breneman of Colgate, Case Cookus of Northern Arizona, Zerrick Cooper of Jacksonville State, Tom Flacco of Towson, Chase Fourcade of Nicholls, Noah Johnson of Alcorn State, Jake Maier of UC Davis and Caylin Newton of Howard.
Also, running backs A.J. Hines of Duquesne, James Robinson of Illinois State, Shane Simpson of Towson and De’Shawn Waller of Alcorn State; wide receivers Michael Bandy of San Diego, Cade Johnson of South Dakota State, Reed Klubnik of Yale, Bryce Nunnelly of Chattanooga, Aaron Parker of Rhode Island, Josh Pearson of Jacksonville State and Nathan Stewart of Sam Houston State; tight ends Charlie Taumoepeau of Portland State and Adam Trautman of Dayton; and athlete Troy Andersen of Montana State.
A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Payton winner following the regular season. Past recipients include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp.