Twenty-two players were named on Wednesday to the watch list for the 2021 Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the national freshman of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

The Rice Award, now in its 11th season, is named for the legendary Hall of Fame wide receiver. Past recipients include Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington), Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (Fordham) and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (North Dakota State).

Joining the Jerry Rice Award Watch List:


Demeatric Crenshaw, Youngstown State (MVFC)

Zevi Eckhaus, Bryant (NEC)

RJ Martinez, Northern Arizona (Big Sky)

Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State (SWAC)

Running Back

Elijah Burris, Hampton (Big South)

Kobe Dillon, Southern (SWAC)

Darius Hale, Central Arkansas (ASUN)

Sy’Veon Wilkerson, Delaware State (MEAC)

Wide Receiver

Nate Bennett, Portland State (Big Sky)

Jacari Carter, Merrimack (NEC)

Drae McCray, Austin Peay (OVC)        

Jalyn Witcher, Presbyterian (Pioneer)

Defensive Line

Thor Griffin, Harvard (Ivy)

Josiah Silver, New Hampshire (CAA)


James Conway, Fordham (Patriot)

Rodney Dansby, Houston Baptist (Southland)

Tyler King, Stony Brook (CAA)

Bryce Norman, Southeast Missouri (OVC)

Defensive Back

Marsean Fisher, Tarleton (WAC)

Andreas Keaton, Western Carolina (Southern)

Dominick Poole, The Citadel (Southern)


Blake Glessner, Montana State (Big Sky)

To be eligible for the Rice Award, a freshman can’t have surpassed four games played in one previous academic year – similar to the NCAA’s regular redshirt rule. More players can join the watch list before a 50-member, national media panel selects the winner following the regular season.

Also this season, Stats Perform will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.