35 FCS Standouts Named to Walter Payton Award Watch List | The Analyst
35 FCS Standouts Named to 2022 Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List

35 FCS Standouts Named to 2022 Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List

A preseason watch list of 35 players was announced on Wednesday for the 2022 Walter Payton Award, which Stats Perform presents to the national offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

All 15 FCS conferences are represented on the watch list, which includes 10 past finalists.

The preseason watch list:


Nic Baker, Southern Illinois, Jr., 5-9, 194

Tim DeMorat, Fordham, Gr., 6-4, 220 (2020 and 2021 Finalist)

Nick Howard, Dartmouth, Sr., 6-2, 230

Parker McKinney, Eastern Kentucky, R-Jr., 6-3, 208

Tommy Mellott, Montana State, So., 6-0, 195

Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State, So., 6-2, 215

Lindsey Scott Jr., UIW, Sr., 5-11, 220

Trae Self, Stephen F. Austin, Sr., 6-4, 190

Jason Shelley, Missouri State, Sr., 5-11, 197 (2021 Finalist)

Xavier Shepherd, Kennesaw State, Jr., 6-0, 205 (2021 Finalist)

Reece Udinski, Richmond, Gr., 6-4, 220

Running Backs

Jake Chisholm, Dayton, Sr., 5-9, 191 (2021 Finalist)

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State, Jr., 6-1, 220

Juwon Farri, Monmouth, R-Sr., 5-10, 195 (2020 Finalist)

Ailym Ford, Chattanooga, Jr., 5-9, 213

Narii Gaither, Gardner-Webb, Sr., 5-10, 181

Ulonzo Gilliam Jr., UC Davis, Sr., 5-9, 189

Malik Grant, Sacred Heart, Sr., 5-9, 200 (2021 Finalist)

Julien Gums, Nicholls, Sr., 5-10, 230

Darius Hale, Central Arkansas, So., 5-11, 225

Geno Hess, Southeast Missouri, Sr., 5-8, 209 (2021 Finalist)

Isaiah Ifanse, Montana State, Sr., 5-10, 202 (2021 Finalist)

Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 236

Jaleel McLaughlin, Youngstown State, Sr., 5-9, 195

Jacob Saylors, ETSU, Sr., 5-11, 195

Wide Receivers

Avante Cox, Southern Illinois, Sr., 5-10, 170

Shaquan Davis, South Carolina State, R-Jr., 6-5, 215

Xavier Gipson, Stephen F. Austin, Sr., 5-9, 170 (2021 Finalist)

Taylor Grimes, UIW, Sr., 5-11, 190

Jakob Herres, Richmond, Gr., 6-4, 225 (2020 Finalist)

Jaxon Janke, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-3, 210

Xavier Smith, Florida A&M, Gr., 5-10, 170

Tight Ends

Kemari Averett, Bethune-Cookman, Sr., 6-6, 260

Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State, Jr., 6-5, 255

Ryan Miller, Furman, R-Sr., 6-2, 221


More players can join the watch list during the regular season, and afterwards a national media panel will select the winner.  First awarded in 1987, the Payton has watched past recipients such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cooper Kupp and Trey Lance move on to the NFL.

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.

Graphic design by Matt Sisneros. Video compiled by Graham Bell.