Colgate's McCarney, Fordham's Koonce on Walter Payton Award Watch List

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Fordham's Carlton Koonce
Fordham's Carlton Koonce

July 8, 2013

Walter Payton Award candidates

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Colgate senior quarterback Gavin McCarney and Fordham senior running back Carlton Koonce were selected as candidates for the highest individual honor in the FCS on Monday when they were named to the initial watch list for the 2013 Walter Payton Award.

McCarney, who finished in fifth place in the voting last year, is one of 11 returnees from the 2012 finalist group and the second-highest finisher back from a year ago. Koonce is one of nine other student-athletes on the list to make up the 20-player candidate pool.

The Walter Payton Award will be presented by The Sports Network to the outstanding player in the FCS on Dec. 16. Past winners of the FCS' most coveted award include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Brian Finneran, John Friesz and Armanti Edwards, the only two-time recipient.

McCarney and Koonce both earned preseason All-America distinction from The Sports Network last week, with the former as a second-team quarterback and the latter on the third team at running back. Both players have also been listed among the best at their position heading into the season by College Football Performance Awards.

In addition to his fifth-place finish for the Walter Payton Award, McCarney was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year and an FCS All-American in 2012. He completed 159-of-256 passes for 2,372 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions and rushed 193 times for 1,406 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Raiders to the Patriot League title. McCarney led the nation in scoring with 11.67 points per game, and was fourth in the FCS in points responsible for, seventh in passing efficiency, ninth in total offense and 12th in rushing. He led Colgate to a top-five mark nationally in rushing, total and scoring offense. McCarney was named a second-team All-American by The Sports Network and third-team by the Associated Press.

He enters the 2013 season just 181 yards away from the Patriot League record for rushing yardage by a quarterback after setting the single-season mark last year. McCarney's 6.49 yards per carry average is the top mark in League history, and he also heads into the season second in total offense per game (280.77) and fifth in completion percentage (63.38) in the Patriot League record book.

Koonce was a first-team All-Patriot League selection who finished fourth in the nation with 145.09 rushing yards per game last year. He carried 300 times for 1,596 yards and 13 touchdowns, and also caught 48 passes for 313 yards and two scores. He earned All-America recognition as an all-purpose running back from College Sports Journal.

The Payton Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2013 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation.

The Sports Network also presents the Buck Buchanan, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Buchanan Award honors the outstanding defensive player in the FCS, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. The winners of those three awards will be invited to the national awards banquet along with the top three vote-getters for the Payton Award.

Patriot Leaguers have won major FCS awards five times. Colgate running backs Kenny Gamble (1987) and Jamaal Branch (2003) claimed Walter Payton Awards, while Holy Cross' Mark Duffner (1987), Lafayette's Bill Russo (1988) and Lehigh's Pete Lembo (2001) are Eddie Robinson Award winners.

In addition to McCarney's fifth-place finish for the Payton Award, Georgetown linebacker Robert McCabe placed fourth in the Buck Buchanan Award voting last season. The Patriot League is one of two FCS conferences to boast top-five finishers for both the Payton and Buchanan awards in each of the last two seasons.

To view the full list of Walter Payton Award candidates, go here. The full release from The Sports Network is available here