SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Samford redshirt junior quarterback Devlin Hodges and Western Carolina senior all-purpose running back Detrez Newsome were among the 22 players listed on the preseason watch list for the 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award for the outstanding offensive player of the year, announced Wednesday.
The list includes 14 players who were finalists a year ago, led by the recipient, Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State, who will attempt to become the second two-time winner of the 31-year-old award, joining Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards in 2008 and 2009.
In 2016, Hodges completed 375-of-530 passes for 4,088 yards and 36 touchdowns, all school records. He ranked second in the nation in total offense per game (359.2) and he ranked third nationally in passing yards (4,088), passing yards per game (340.7), passing touchdowns (36) and points responsible for (240).
Currently, Hodges holds Samford single-season records for passing yards (4,088), pass attempts (530), pass completions (375), completion percentage (70.8), touchdown passes (36), total offense (4,310) and most offensive plays (641), and he tied for the record for most touchdowns responsible for (40). Hodges also holds single-game school records for total offense (513 vs. Mississippi State) and most offensive plays (86 vs. Mississippi State).
Already this preseason, Hodges has been selected as the Southern Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Earlier this week, he was named a preseason third-team All-American by STATS.
Newsome, who earned a spot on the FCS Preseason All-America second team earlier this week, has additionally been named preseason first team All-FCS by Lindy’s Sports, and was a two-time preseason All-Southern Conference selection at both running back and return specialist.
Newsome led all FCS players with an average of 213 all-purpose yards in 2016. He went over 1,000 rushing yards (1,031) for the second consecutive season, nearly reached that same plateau (970) on kickoff returns, and recorded his single-season career-best with 342 receiving yards. All told, his 2,343 all-purpose yards were a SoCon single-season record. The Raeford, N.C., native was named to the STATS FCS All-America second team as an all-purpose player, one of three postseason All-America nods a year ago.
Against South Carolina, Newsome amassed a school-record 365 all-purpose yards, including 240 kickoff return yards that set a SoCon standard. As a result, he was named the national special teams player of the week. Newsome also garnered an honorable mention for STATS Offensive Player of the Week as well as SoCon Offensive Player of the Week plaudits after rushing for both a school and facility record 277 yards with two touchdowns against Chattanooga.
Newsome is the second Catamount to grace the initial watch list for the Walter Payton Award in recent years, joining former quarterback Troy Mitchell, who made the preseason list prior to the 2015 season.
The Payton Award, first handed out in 1987, has had past winners such as Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Brian Finneran, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp move on to the NFL.
The watch list will have updates during the season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on 25 finalists following the regular season.
Also this season, STATS will present the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year. STATS will hold its national awards banquet the night of Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the FCS national championship game.
The preseason nominees to the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List:
Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State, QB, R-Sr., 6-3, 220, Houston, Texas (2016 winner)
Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona, WR, Sr., 6-4, 220, Phoenix, Ariz.
Taryn Christion, South Dakota State, QB, So., 6-2, 220, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Case Cookus, Northern Arizona, QB, R-So., 6-4, 200, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Chase Edmonds, Fordham, RB, Sr., 5-9, 210, Harrisburg, Pa.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State, TE, R-Sr., 6-4, 255, Britton, S.D.
Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington, QB, R-Jr., 6-3, 195, McMinnville, Ore.
Devlin Hodges, Samford, QB, R-Jr., 6-1, 213, Kimberly, Ala.
Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, Albany, RB, R-Jr., 5-9, 200, Newark, N.J.
DeVante Kincade, Grambling State, QB, R-Sr., 6-1, 190, Dallas, Texas
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, QB, Sr., 6-3, 208, Exton, Pa.
Anthony Lawrence, San Diego, QB, R-Jr., 6-1, 195, La Mesa, Calif.
Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, WR, Jr., 6-4, 195, Fresno, Calif.
John Lovett, Princeton, RB, Jr., 6-3, 220, Wantagh, N.Y.
Tyrell Maxwell, Gardner-Webb, QB, Sr., 6-2, 220, Cordova, S.C.
Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina, RB, Sr., 5-10, 210, Raeford, N.C.
Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T, OT, R-Sr., 6-7, 300, Kannapolis, N.C.
Troy Pelletier, Lehigh, WR, Sr., 6-3, 205, Deerfield, N.H.
Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly, FB, Sr., 6-0, 225, Concord, Calif.
Bryan Schor, James Madison, QB, Sr., 6-2, 213, Milford, Pa.
Justin Watson, Penn, WR, Sr., 6-3, 210, Bridgeville, Pa.
Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State, WR, R-Sr., 6-4, 215, Maple Grove, Minn.