By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Is it the year of the junior?
Consistent excellence this season has landed Bryant junior running back Jordan Brown and Elon junior wide receiver Aaron Mellette on the Walter Payton Award Watch List and Alabama State junior free safety Kejuan Riley on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List.
The Walter Payton Award, celebrating its 25th anniversary, honors the outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision, and the Buck Buchanan Award is presented to the division's outstanding defensive player. The two highest player awards in the FCS are presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
Mellette, 6-4, 212, the top target in coach Jason Swepson's spread offense, has continued the impressive play that earned him All-America honors as a sophomore. Catching a touchdown in all but one of Elon's eight games, Mellette ranks second in the FCS for receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,097). The All-Southern Conference talent has nearly matched his sophomore totals of 86 receptions and 1,110 receiving yards.
Riley, 6-1, 208, has grabbed six interceptions in Alabama State's 6-1 start to rank second nationally and contribute to the Hornets leading the FCS in turnover margin. He has a team-high 50 tackles, including a career-high 11 against FBS member Eastern Michigan. In living up to his selection on The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America First Team, Riley is trying to help guide the Hornets to a second straight appearance in the SWAC Championship Game.
The two watch lists feature 20 players. Their bios can be found at: http://www.sportsnetwork.com/sports/stats/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=foxnews&page= cfoot2/fcsawards/index.aspx
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the Payton and Buchanan awards after the regular season, beginning Nov. 21. The voters also will choose winners of the inaugural Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) and the 25th Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) to be presented at the FCS national awards banquet Friday night, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas. The Sports Network also presents and Fathead.com sponsors those two awards.