Philadelphia, PA – Wide receivers Christian Bryan of Youngstown State and Neal Sterling of Monmouth, quarterback Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion and kick returner Jordan Wells of Southeastern Louisiana joined the Jerry Rice Award Watch List on Wednesday.
The inaugural award honors the outstanding freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision. It is presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
Bryan, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, has caught touchdowns in each of Youngstown State's last four games. Overall, he has 33 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns for the Penguins.
Sterling, 6-3, 235, was slowed by last Saturday's snowstorm at Monmouth, but little else has done that while he's racked up 40 receptions for 459 yards and three touchdowns.
Heinicke, 6-1, 190, replaced injured quarterback Thomas DeMarco five games ago and Old Dominion hasn't slowed down. He's completed 101-of-147 pass attempts for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns with only one interception.
Wells, 5-11, 195, has three games remaining to build on his Southland Conference single season record for kickoff return yards (1,171). He also is a running back.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the first Jerry Rice Award winner after the regular season. The legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, will be on hand at the national awards banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas, to present the new award.
The list of nominees:
Mike Crutcher, Missouri State, FS, 6-2, 198 The redshirt freshman had a team-high 69 tackles with three pass breakups through October games. He collected 13 tackles against North Dakota State.
Christian Bryan, Youngstown State, WR, 5-10, 180 Bryan has given the Penguins a big-play threat, grabbing 33 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns through their first eight games. He caught five passes for 131 yards and a touchdown against Southern Illinois.
Michael Dallas II, Morgan State, LB, 6-0, 205 Had 11 tackles versus Bowling Green and forced two fumbles against Howard. The redshirt freshman corralled 49 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, in Morgan State's first eight games.
Chuck Dibilo, Princeton, RB, 5-11, 200 After surpassing 100 yards in three of the Tigers' last four games, Dibilo entered November leading FCS freshmen in rushing yards per game (99.1).
Michael German, Tennessee State, QB, 6-2, 215 German was elevated to starter in October and went a combined 72-for-115 for 947 yards and six touchdowns in his first four games. He did not throw an interception in his first 137 attempts this season.
D'Vonte Grant, North Carolina A&T, LB, 5-11, 215 Active redshirt frosh totaled a team-high 65 tackles, including seven for loss, one sack, one interception, one pass break-up, two quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the Aggies' first eight games.
R.J. Harris, New Hampshire, WR, 6-0, 194 The redshirt freshman was spectacular in September. He had 34 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns through UNH's first eight games.
Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion, QB, 6-1, 190 In his first five games, Heinicke was outstanding, completing 101-of-147 pass attempts (68.7 percent) for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns with only one interception. He also rushed for two touchdowns.
David Johnson, Northern Iowa, RB, 6-3, 214 When North Dakota State slowed the redshirt freshman on the ground, he responded with 10 receptions. Overall, he rushed for 598 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns through October action.
Dillon Lucas, Villanova, LB, 6-0, 215 Consistent freshman averaged 8.4 tackles in the Wildcats' first nine games to lead FCS freshmen. Collected 12 tackles and a sack against Old Dominion.
Brady Measom, Southern Utah, WR, 5-9, 165 Part of a deep receiving corps at Southern Utah, Measom had 44 receptions for 488 yards and two touchdowns in his first nine games. Also had an 11-yard average on his first 13 punt returns.
Jake Miller, Eastern Washington, Punter, 6-5, 205 A transfer from Washington State, Miller has come on strong during his redshirt freshman season, averaging 43.4 yards per punt through nine games, with six punts of at least 50 yards.
Greg McGhee, Howard, QB, 6-3, 200 Mobile left-hander was a threat as a passer (148 of 273 for 1,484 yards and 12 touchdowns) or a runner (291 yards) through his first nine games.
Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette, RB, 6-0, 190 Through October games, the all-around standout ranked 40th in the FCS with 125.8 all-purpose yards per game. He's a threat as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
Neal Sterling, Monmouth, WR, 6-3, 235 Sterling could be on his way to becoming the best wide receiver in the Northeast Conference. He caught 40 passes for 459 yards and three touchdowns through the Hawks' first eight games.
Austin Sumner, South Dakota State, QB, 6-5, 230 After the Jackrabbits turned the offense over to the redshirt freshman, he had four 300-yard games in his first six starts. Entering November, he was averaging 230.8 passing yards per game to lead FCS freshmen.
Terrance West, Towson, RB, 5-11, 222 After becoming Towson's featured back, West had a four-game run of 572 yards and 13 touchdowns. Through October, he had 746 yards on 120 carries, and his 18 touchdowns led the FCS.
Jordan Wells, Southeastern Louisiana, RB/KR, 5-11, 195 By the end of October, the redshirt freshman already had set the Southland Conference record for kickoff return yards in a season (1,171). He had 265 yards on nine returns against Central Arkansas.
Brandon White, San Diego, WR, 6-3, 195 Has become a big part of the Toreros' offense, catching 36 balls for 454 yards and four touchdowns in their first eight games.
Will Whitman, Harvard, OT, 6-6, 260 The first freshman offensive lineman to start under veteran head coach Tim Murphy has been outstanding in protecting Crimson quarterbacks.