Mercer, Central Arkansas freshmen join Rice Award Watch List

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Updated: 11/07/2013 12:28 pm

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Mercer University quarterback John Russ and Central Arkansas wide receiver/kick returner Jatavious Wilson were nominated to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List on Thursday.

The Rice Award, now in its third season, honors the top first-year player in the FCS, whether a true freshman or a redshirt freshman.

Russ, a 6-foot, 192-pound redshirt freshman, has embraced the opportunity to help start Mercer's new program, which is competing in the Pioneer Football League this season. Through the Bears' 8-1 start, Russ has completed 92-of-177 pass attempts for 1,484 yards and 16 touchdowns with three interceptions. He also has rushed for 587 yards and eight touchdowns.

Wilson, a 5-9, 171-pound true freshman, has been multi-dimensional for Central Arkansas out of the Southland Conference. He has caught 35 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns, and averaged 35.5 yards on kickoff returns (which ranks second in the FCS) while returning a pair for touchdowns. He also recently broke an 80-yard rush against Stephen F. Austin.

The Jerry Rice Award, named for the legendary wide receiver who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, can undergo revision during the season.

The winner will be announced at The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.

The Watch List:

Kourtney Berry, LB, Alabama State, 6-foot, 210 Nine games: 76 TT (36 solo), 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR

Austin Black, DT, Southeast Missouri State, 6-0, 232 Nine games: 40 TT (22 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 QBH

Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne, 6-3, 176 Eight games: 166-of-265, 1,891 yards, 10 TD, 11 INT, 126.7 passing efficiency

Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T, 5-8, 170 Eight games: 123 carries, 740 yards, 5 TD; 8 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD

Marcus Cox, RB, Appalachian State, 5-10, 185 Nine games: 161 carries, 857 yards, 9 TD; 37 receptions, 515 yards, 5 TD

Bentlee Critcher, P, Appalachian State, 6-1, 175 Nine games: 42 punts, 45.7-yard average, 63 long, 11 inside 20, 16 50 yards- plus

Lawrence Forbes, P, Morgan State, 6-4, 180 Nine games: 37 punts, 45-yard average, 78 long, 11 inside 20, 8 50 yards- plus

Matt Johnson, QB, Charlotte, 6-3, 230 Nine games: 190-of-308, 2,263 yards, 19 TD, 11 INT, 136.6 passing efficiency; 83 carries, 306 yards, 2 TD

Javancy Jones, DE, Jackson State, 6-2, 230 Eight games: 37 TT (17 solo), 12 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 1 TD

Michael Jones, CB, North Carolina Central, 5-9, 175 Nine games: 33 TT (23 solo), 3 TFL, 4 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FR

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington, 6-2, 195 Nine games: 52 receptions, 982 yards, 13 TD

Christophe Mulumba, LB, Maine, 6-1, 230 Nine games: 74 TT (20 solo), 2 sacks, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR

RJ Noel, QB, Sacred Heart, 6-1, 190 10 games: 146-of-276, 1,772 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 127.1 passing efficiency; 109 carries, 503 yards, 6 TD

Donald Payne, S, Stetson, 6-0, 191 Eight games: 82 TT (48 solo), 9 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT, 9 PBU, 2 QBH, 3 FR, 2 FF, 2 TD

Peter Pujals, QB, Holy Cross, 6-2, 185 Eight games: 158-of-251, 1,754 yards, 16 TD, 5 INT; 108 carries, 445 yards, 7 TD

Martin Ruiz, RB, Youngstown State, 5-11, 195 Nine games: 140 carries, 906 yards, 14 TD; 14 receptions, 144 yards, 1 TD; 136.2 all-purpose yards per game

John Russ, QB, Mercer, 6-0, 192 Nine games: 92-of-177, 1,484 yards, 16 TD, 3 INT, 148.8 passing efficiency; 103 carries, 587 yards, 9 TD

Marquis Smith, LB, Savannah State, 6-3, 235 Ten games: 100 TT (59 solo), 10.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 2 TD

Gage Steele, LB, James Madison, 6-1, 230 Nine games: 82 TT (30 solo), 3 TFL, 1.5 sack, 3 PBU, 2 FF

C.J. Williams, RB, Bucknell, 6-1, 205 Seven games: 162 carries, 697 yards, 7 TD; 7 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD; 106.7 all-purpose yards per game

Jatavious Wilson, WR/KR, Central Arkansas, 5-9, 171 Nine games: 35 receptions, 380 yards, 2 TD; 7 carries, 92 yards; 13 kick returns, 35.5-yard average, 2 TD; 106.6 all-purpose yards per game

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