In the FCS Huddle: Diverse list of Payton, Buchanan finalists

Twenty finalists for each of the Football Championship Subdivision's top player honors were announced Monday and ballots were sent to the voters of the 2011 Walter Payton and Buck Buchanan awards.

The Payton Award, in its 25th year, is given to the outstanding player in the FCS, while the Buchanan Award is bestowed on the outstanding defensive player in the FCS. Each award is presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by

Ballots for the Payton and Buchanan awards - as well as for the Jerry Rice (FCS freshman of the year) and Eddie Robinson (FCS coach of the year) awards, which The Sports Network also presents and sponsors - were sent to a panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. All four award winners will be announced at the national awards banquet on Friday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas - the night before the national championship game.

The Walter Payton Award finalists include nine quarterbacks, Casey Brockman of Murray State, Mike Brown of Liberty, Kevin Decker of New Hampshire, Chris Lum of Lehigh, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State, Bo Levi Mitchell of Eastern Washington, Tirrell Rennie of Northern Iowa, Brad Sorensen of Southern Utah and Casey Therriault of Jackson State

Other finalists are running backs Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Jordan Brown of Bryant, Jamaine Cook of Youngstown State, Tim Flanders of Sam Houston State, Jonathan Grimes of William & Mary, Andrew Pierce of Delaware and Terrance West of Towson; fullback Eric Breitenstein of Wofford; and wide receivers Aaron Mellette of Elon, Brian Quick of Appalachian State and Rodrick Rumble of Idaho State.

McGhee, Therriault, Brown and Breitenstein were finalists last year.

The Buck Buchanan Award finalists include a list-high seven linebackers, Kadarron Anderson of Furman, Matt Evans of New Hampshire, L.J. Fort of Northern Iowa, Tyler Holmes of Massachusetts, Keith Pough of Howard, Derek Rose of Northwestern State and A.J. Storms of Idaho State.

Other finalists are defensive tackles Ben Boothby of Northern Iowa and Brent Russell of Georgia Southern; defensive ends Adrian Hamilton of Prairie View A&M, Zack Nash of Sacramento State, Ben Obaseki of Indiana State and Andrew Schaetzke of Georgetown; cornerbacks Justin Bethel of Presbyterian, Jeremy Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky, Asa Jackson of Cal Poly, Trumaine Johnson of Montana, Josh Norman of Coastal Carolina and Ryan Steed of Furman; and free safety Kejuan Riley of Alabama State.

Evans, Holmes, Russell and Johnson were finalists last year.

Voting will reflect only the regular season. The FCS playoffs begin Saturday, Nov. 26.