Oct. 15, 2013
Sports Network Release | FCS Awards Page
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Fordham junior quarterback Mike Nebrich and Lehigh senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis were placed among the elite in the FCS with a spot on the Walter Payton Award watch list on Tuesday.
The Walter Payton Award is presented by The Sports Network to the outstanding player in the FCS following the regular season.
Nebrich's spot on the Payton Award watch list seemed almost guaranteed in recent weeks, as he punctuated his early-season performance with a Patriot League and FCS record-setting outing on Saturday. Nebrich set a League record for consecutive completions at 20, which also tied the FCS consecutive streak to start a game, while going 35-of-45 for 405 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 51 yards and a score in a 34-12 win at Georgetown. He won his fourth Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week award on Monday, and now stands first in the FCS in completion percentage at 74.2%, third in total offense (365.6), fourth in points responsible for (19.1), seventh in passing efficiency (166.4), eighth in passing yards (309.4) and ninth in completions (27.1). Even with all of the gaudy numbers, the most impressive may be that Nebrich has now gone 212 attempts without an interception since his only pick of the season in the second game against Villanova.
Kurfis earned his spot on the Walter Payton Award watch by performing as the top receiver in the country through the first six weeks of Lehigh's season. The senior leads the FCS in both receptions (10.7) and receiving yards (155.7) per game. He has 64 receptions for 934 yards and six touchdowns this season, easily leading the FCS in both receptions and receiving yards for the year despite playing one fewer game than a number of players. Kurfis has the second-highest single-game reception (14) and receiving yardage (222) marks in the FCS this season, and already has four double-digit reception games on the year and a streak of seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games dating back to last season.
Other nominees on the Watch List are quarterbacks Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington, Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, Brock Jensen of North Dakota State, Jeff Mathews of Cornell, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State and Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern; running backs Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona, Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State, Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State, Kyle Harbridge of Saint Francis (Pa.), David Johnson of Northern Iowa, Terrance West of Towson and Zach Zenner of South Dakota State; and wide receivers Jordan Harris of Bryant, Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois and Walter Powell of Murray State.
Other players considered for the Watch List: Lehigh quarterback Brandon Bialkowski; North Dakota wide receiver Greg Hardin; Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson; Fordham running back Carlton Koonce; Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney; Central Arkansas quarterback Wynrick Smothers; and Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro.
Bialkowski stands second in the nation in passing yardage, total offense and completions per game, and has helped No. 16/18 Lehigh to a 5-1 record. McCarney and Koonce were both named to the preseason Walter Payton Award watch list.
The Payton Award Watch List can undergo revision during the season. Ballots will be sent to a national panel of 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 Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
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 also will be invited to the national banquet. Holy Cross freshman quarterback Peter Pujals was named to the watch list for the Rice Award last week.
For more information, visit The Sports Network's FCS Awards Page