Chattanooga, Tenn. - The race for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, sponsored by Fathead.com, kicked off Monday with The Sports Network's announcement of a stellar 20-player Watch List for the Football Championship Subdivision's top individual honor. Included in the lineup is Chattanooga senior quarterback B.J. Coleman (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
The Payton Award will celebrate its 25th anniversary this season and be presented to the FCS' outstanding player at the national awards banquet Thursday night, Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.
This season's winner will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Steve McNair, John Friesz, Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran, Armanti Edwards and 2010 winner Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin.
Coleman is one of 11 quarterbacks on the list. See the link at the top of the page for the complete roster or visit www.SportsNetwork.com. The Mocs' team captain is looking to build on a 2010 campaign where he threw for 2,996 yards while completing 56.3% (215-382) of his passes. He was sixth in the nation with 26 TD passes, the second highest total in school history. Coleman was also ranked No. 7 in the FCS with 272.4 passing yards per game.
Coleman will threaten most of the Mocs' career passing records in 2011. More importantly, he hopes to lead Chattanooga back to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1984. UTC returns a core group of student-athletes who have posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991.
The Payton Award Watch List will undergo revision during the 2011 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation.
The Sports Network also presents the Buck Buchanan, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead.com. The Buchanan Award honors the FCS defensive player of the year, the new Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award, which also is celebrating its 25th anniversary, honors the FCS coach of the year. Those three winners will join the top three Payton finalists at the national awards banquet.