Eleven players were added on Wednesday to the watch list for the 2021 Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the national offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

The Payton Award, celebrating its 35th anniversary season, is named for the legendary Hall of Fame running back. Past recipients include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance.

Nominated to the watch list:


Davis Alexander, Portland State

Ren Hefley, Presbyterian

Keon Howard, UT Martin

Cole Johnson, James Madison

Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State

Jason Shelley, Missouri State

Xavier Shepherd, Kennesaw State

Running Back

Malik Grant, Sacred Heart

Isaiah Ifanse, Montana State

Wide Receiver

Xavier Gipson, Stephen F. Austin

Offensive Line

Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

The original watch list in the preseason included 35 players. A 50-member, national media panel will select the winner following the regular season.

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