PHILADELPHIA – Junior wide receiver Justin Watson has been named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award presented annually to FCS Offensive Player of the Year.
The Ivy League’s leader in receptions (89), yards (1,115) and receiving touchdowns (8) for the second year in a row, Watson has again established himself as one the nation’s premier threats at the wide receiver position. For good measure, Watson took the Ivy title in all-purpose yards with 1,248.
Among all FCS receivers, Watson finished the regular season No. 3 in receptions-per-game (8.9), No. 5 in receiving yards-per-game (111.5) and No. 8 in total receiving yards (with five players ahead of him having played in 11 games to Watson’s 10).
Watson’s 2016 season was one for the record books. He set new Penn single-season records in catches and yards, with his 89 receptions ranking No. 5 all-time in a season by an Ivy Leaguer and his 1,115 yards No. 11 in a season by an Ivy player.
Through three seasons, Watson ranks No. 9 all-time in receiving yards by an Ivy League player with 2,694. He is No. 12 all-time in receptions with 205 for his career. On Penn’s all-time charts, he is second in yards and catches while ranking fourth in touchdowns (19).
A third-team STATS FCS All-American last season, Watson was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection and runner-up for the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year award.
He is just the fourth Ivy League player with multiple 1,000-yard seasons and the first since 2001-02. He has had 13 100-yard games over the past two seasons – no Ivy League player has ever that many in a two-year span and he already ranks No. 3 all-time in career 100-yard games by an Ivy Leaguer.
Watson, the lone Ivy League player among the 15 finalists, is one of 16 wide receivers in contention.
All four awards and the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.
The voting panel consists of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. Voting is based on the regular season.
WALTER PAYTON AWARD FINALISTS
(FCS Offensive Player of the Year)
Khalid Abdullah, RB, James Madison; Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State; Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne; Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State; Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T; Julie'n Davenport, LT, Bucknell; Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham; Austin Gahafer, QB, Morehead State; Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State; Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington; Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford; De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina; Devlin Hodges, QB, Samford; KD Humphries, QB, Murray State; Eli Jenkins, QB, Jacksonville State; DeVante Kincade, QB, Grambling State; Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington; Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond; Kamron Lewis, WR, Saint Francis; Tyrell Maxwell, QB, Gardner-Webb; Troy Pelletier, WR, Lehigh; Bryan Schor, QB, James Madison; Lenard Tillery, RB, Southern; Justin Watson, WR, Penn; Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State