Stats Perform has announced a preseason watch list for the 2023 Walter Payton Award, presented by FedEx Ground and given annually to the national offensive player of the year in Division I FCS college football.

All 15 FCS conferences, which combine to form 13 leagues, are represented on the watch list, which includes 12 past finalists.

The 2023 preseason watch list:


Bret Bushka, Butler, R-Sr., 5-10, 205 (Pioneer Football League)

Zach Calzada, UIW, Gr., 6-4, 217 (Southland Conference)

Theo Day, Northern Iowa, R-Sr., 6-5, 231 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Cole Doyle, Saint Francis, R-Jr., 5-10, 170 (Northeast Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Zevi Eckhaus, Bryant, Jr., 6-1, 205 (Big South-OVC Football Association)

Mark Gronowski, South Dakota State, Jr., 6-3, 220 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Nolan Grooms, Yale, Sr., 6-2, 188 (Ivy League)

Miles Hastings, UC Davis, Jr., 6-1, 189 (Big Sky Conference)

Michael Hiers, Samford, Sr., 6-1, 211 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Gevani McCoy, Idaho, R-So., 6-2, 185 (Big Sky Conference)

Parker McKinney, Eastern Kentucky, R-Sr., 6-3, 208 (United Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Tommy Mellott, Montana State, Jr., 6-0, 209 (Big Sky Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Justin Miller, Southern Utah, R-Sr., 6-3, 210 (United Athletic Conference)

Reese Poffenbarger, UAlbany, R-So., 6-0, 210 (CAA Football)

Davius Richard, North Carolina Central, Sr., 6-3, 215 (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Tommy Schuster, North Dakota, Sr., 6-0, 195 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross, Sr., 6-3, 215 (Patriot League) – 2022 Finalist

Running Backs

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 220 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Ailym Ford, Chattanooga, R-Sr., 5-9, 213 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Narii Gaither, Gardner-Webb, Sr., 5-10, 181 (Big South-OVC Football Association)

Malik Grant, Sacred Heart, Gr., 5-9, 200 (Northeast Conference) – 2021 Finalist

Geno Hess, Southeast Missouri, R-Sr., 5-8, 222 (Big South-OVC Football Association) – 2021 and 2022 Finalist

Jarveon Howard, Alcorn State, Sr., 5-10, 200 (Southwestern Athletic Conference)

Dylan Laube, New Hampshire, Sr., 5-10, 204 (CAA Football)

ShunDerrick Powell, Central Arkansas, Jr., 5-7, 168 (United Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Dominic Roberto, Furman, R-Sr., 5-11, 231 (Southern Conference)

Jaden Shirden, Monmouth, Jr., 5-9, 185 (CAA Football) – 2022 Finalist

TaMerik Williams, North Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 227 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Bronson Yoder, William & Mary, Sr., 5-11, 205 (CAA Football)

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Jalen Coker, Holy Cross, Sr., 6-3, 207 (Patriot League)     

Devron Harper, Mercer, Sr., 5-9, 168 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Hayden Hatten, Idaho, R-Jr., 6-2, 205 (Big Sky Conference)

Ty James, Mercer, R-Sr., 6-2, 200 (Southern Conference)

Jaxon Janke, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-3, 210 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Marshel Martin, Sacramento State, Sr., 6-2, 210 (Big Sky Conference)

More players can join the watch list during the regular season before a national media panel selects the winner from a group of finalists. First awarded in 1987, the Payton has had 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, 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 FedEx Ground Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be presented at the national awards banquet on the eve of the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas.