Wednesday, October 03, 2012 | Valley Football
Jerry Rice Award Watch List Announced

Five Missouri Valley Football Conference players highlight the list of 16 named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch list, including RB Ryan Heaston of Missouri State; QB Sawyer Kollmorgen of UNI, LB T.J. Lally of South Dakota State; LB J.J. Raffelson of Western Illinois and WR Andre Stubbs of Youngstown State.

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A coach may not know right away what he has in a freshman, but over the course of season, a player's talent will shine through.

A year ago, it took Towson football coach Rob Ambrose one game before he lifted running back Terrance West's redshirt. Was he ever glad he did, as West went on to score an FCS-high 29 touchdowns when the Tigers captured the CAA Football title and finished 9-3.

West won the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, which honors the FCS' national freshman of the year.  On Wednesday, The Sports Network announced its initial Watch List for the 2012 Rice Award.   Sixteen players are on the list: six quarterbacks, three running backs, one wide receiver, one all-purpose player, four linebackers and one strong safety.  The Rice Award, named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The list will grow to 20 finalists by then.

Named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List:
Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington, Quarterback, 6-0, 180 - No player has snuck up on the competition faster than Adams. He was the surprise starter for the first half of the Eagles' third game. A week later, he had 407 yards of total offense and threw two of his three touchdown passes in the final 2:19 as the Eagles rallied past Big Sky Conference rival Montana. The redshirt freshman has passed for 428 yards and rushed for 118 yards in his first six quarters of action.

Zak Browning, Southern Utah, Linebacker, 5-11, 215 - Browning has been an all-around force to start his career. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, he collected double-digit totals in tackles in three of his first four games and ranks in the top 12 nationally at 11.3 per game. He also has forced three fumbles, broken up two passes and recorded one sack.

Reese Hannon, Furman, Quarterback, 6-2, 201 - Hannon became the Paladins' starting quarterback in their second game and proceeded to throw four touchdown passes against Coastal Carolina. Through his first four starts, he ranks 12th in the FCS in passing efficiency (150.91), having completed 71-of-111 passes for 937 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.

Ryan Heaston, Missouri State, Running Back, 5-10, 174 - After earning more carries, Heaston rushed for 126 yards against Southern Illinois and 148 yards against South Dakota State. The speedy redshirt freshman has 377 yards on 64 carries and 11 receptions for 136 yards through the Bears' first five games.

Telvin Hooks, Tennessee State, Running Back, 5-10, 190 - A redshirt freshman, Hooks has been a consistent threat in the Tigers' 5-0 start this season. He has rushed for at least 66 yards in four of their first five games, highlighted by 108 yards against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He has totaled 374 yards (on 6.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in the season-opening stretch.

Jacob Huesman, UT-Chattanooga, Quarterback, 6-1, 190 - Huesman has made it easy for his father, Mocs coach Russ Huesman, to play him as a redshirt freshman. The younger Huesman has gone out and performed well, compiling 1,003 yards of total offense in his first five games. He's completed 70-of-111 passes for 699 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception. The dual-threat rushed for 166 yards and one touchdown against Jacksonville State.

Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah, Strong Safety, 6-3, 201 - Talk about a safety valve, Killebrew has 43 tackles, including 25 solos, broken up two passes and scooped up a fumble in his first five games. The redshirt freshman totaled 15 stops in the Thunderbirds' first-ever Big Sky Conference game - a 49-42 win over Portland State.

Sawyer Kollmorgen, Northern Iowa, Quarterback, 6-2, 215 - UNI has had some early season growing pains, but its redshirt freshman signal-caller has held his own. Kollmorgen ranks 11th in the FCS in passing efficiency (151.15), completing 90-of-151 pass attempts for 1,285 yards and 11 touchdowns against three interceptions. He threw for a season-high 333 yards with three touchdowns against Youngstown State. Kollmorgen hails from the highly regarded Jenks (Okla.) High School program.

T.J. Lally, South Dakota State, Linebacker, 6-0, 225 - Lally broke out for a four-sack game against UC Davis - the most in SDSU's Division I era - with 10 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. Overall, the redshirt freshman has 41 tackles in five games, adding one interception and one forced fumble to his all-around production.

Trent McKinney, Montana, Quarterback, 6-0, 198 - McKinney has given Montana some Hawaiian punch this season. The native of Miliani, Hawaii, is a dual- threat under center. He has completed 94-of-138 pass attempts for 941 yards and six touchdowns, with seven interceptions, while rushing for 294 yards and four touchdowns in the Grizzlies' first five games.

Sean Price, Appalachian State, Wide Receiver, 6-5, 210 - Price is making up for lost time. The redshirt freshman didn't play in the Mountaineers' first two games, but has gone over 100 receiving yards in three straight games to tie a school record. He has caught 26 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns - all team highs among the receivers. Price already has drawn comparisons to former ASU great Brian Quick.

J.J. Raffelson, Western Illinois, Linebacker, 6-3, 235 - Possessing terrific size for a redshirt freshman, Raffelson is off to a big start to his career. He has averaged 10.5 tackles through WIU's first four games, which ranks second nationally among first-year players. He had 13 tackles and a pass breakup against Illinois State.

Brendon Riddick, Norfolk State, Running Back, 5-11, 210 - Riddick has shared time in the NSU backfield and come on strong. In his first five games, including three starts, he has rushed for 279 yards and five touchdowns on 49 carries. The redshirt freshman also has a touchdown on seven receptions. He was the team's scout team quarterback last year, but moved to running back this past spring.

John Robertson, Villanova, Quarterback, 6-1, 200 - A dual threat under center, Robertson has run the Wildcats offense efficiently. The redshirt freshman has completed 55-of-97 pass attempts for 725 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. On the ground, he has rushed for 321 yards on 62 carries, with one touchdown in each of the five games. The 'Cats won only twice last season, but are off to a 4-1 start.

Luke Rhodes, William & Mary, Linebacker, 6-2, 230 - It appears all Rhodes for ball carriers lead to the Tribe's middle linebacker. Rhodes, a redshirt freshman, began his career with 11 tackles against Maryland. Through five games, he has 41 tackles, including 3 1/2 for loss, with three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Andre Stubbs, Youngstown State, All-Purpose, 5-6, 160 - Officially Stubbs is listed at wide receiver, but the redshirt freshman does a little bit of everything for the Penguins. As a runner, receiver and return specialist, he has averaged 120 all-purpose yards per game. He collected 172 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns in the season-opening win at Pittsburgh.

In addition to the Rice Award, The Sports Network presents the Walter Payton, Buck Buchanan and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS, the Buchanan Award goes to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year.  All four major awards will be announced at the FCS national banquet on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.