The Race For The 2010 Walter Payton Award Heats Up

The season-long excellence of quarterbacks Matt Barr of Western Illinois and Denarius McGhee of Montana State, and running back Henry Harris of Southeast Missouri State has led to their inclusion in the race for the 2010 Walter Payton Award, sponsored by Fathead.com.

A stellar 20-player Watch List will be pared to the Football Championship Subdivision’s top individual honor. The Payton Award, in its 24th season, will be presented to the FCS’ outstanding player at the national awards banquet on Thursday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas – the night before the national championship game.

Barr, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound redshirt senior, has led Western Illinois to a 6-3 record. He is second in the FCS in passing efficiency (167.44), having completed over 62 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards and 23 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He also has rushed for 398 yards and five touchdowns to rank third nationally with 315.1 yards of total offense per game.

McGhee, a 5-9, 203-pound redshirt freshman, has been the top signal-caller in the quarterback-rich Big Sky Conference, ranking sixth nationally in total offense (296.7 yards per game) during the Bobcats’ 8-2 season. He has completed over 63 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 20 touchdowns against five interceptions, while rushing for a pair of touchdowns.

Harris, a 5-8, 185-pound redshirt senior, has led Southeast Missouri State to a 9-1 record and one of the biggest turnarounds in NCAA Division I history. He leads the FCS with 219.2 all-purpose yards per game, including a school-record 1,493 rushing yards. He has scored 17 touchdowns.

Barr, McGhee and Harris join the Payton Award Watch List alongside quarterbacks Mike Brown of Liberty, Thomas DeMarco of Old Dominion, Pat Devlin of Delaware, Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin, DeAndre Presley of Appalachian State, Scott Riddle of Elon, Casey Therriault of Jackson State, Steve Valentino of Dayton and Chris Whitney of Villanova; running backs Nate Eachus of Colgate, Chris Evans of Samford, Taiwan Jones of Eastern Washington, Kyle Minett of South Dakota State, Chase Reynolds of Montana and Frank Warren of Grambling State; wide receiver Tysson Poots of Southern Utah; and offensive tackle Ben Ijalana of Villanova.

A panel of nearly 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Payton Award winner after the regular season.

The Sports Network also presents the Buck Buchanan and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead.com. The Buchanan Award honors the FCS defensive player of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year.

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