Jacob Huesman on Preseason Watch List For Walter Payton Award

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Chattanooga Mocs junior quarterback Jacob Huesman was named to the 2014 Walter Payton Award Watch List today.  The Payton Award goes to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and is presented annually by The Sports Network.

Huesman was the 2013 Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for 16 touchdowns and rushing for nine more last season.  He led the Mocs to an 8-4 overall record and a share of the Southern Conference title for the first time since 1984. 

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“This is great recognition for our football team,” stated head coach Russ Huesman.  “We are proud of Jacob and what he has been able to accomplish, but this also says a lot about where we are as a program.  We are all excited for the upcoming season and see what kind of year we can have.”          

Huesman was fourth in the FCS with a 68.3 completion percentage in 2013.  He connected 164 passes on 240 attempts and only had five interceptions.  His career 67% accuracy is currently the best in school history at UTC. 

“It is exciting to be listed among such a prestigious group of student-athletes,” stated Huesman.  “It is a testament to the hard work my teammates and I have put in. We can’t wait to get back on the field.”

Huesman was not only proficient through the air, but he was also a major weapon in the running game.  He led the Mocs with 894 rushing yards on 176 carries and was fourth in the SoCon with 211 yards of total offense per game. 

Huesman is the fifth Moc to be named to the Payton Award Watch List in recent memory, including Chris Sanders (2000), Cos DeMatteo (2001), Alonzo Nix (2004) and B.J. Coleman (2011). 

Past winners of the Payton include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Brian Finneran, John Friesz and Armanti Edwards.  The 2013 recipient, Jimmy Garoppolo, was this year’s second-round draft choice of the New England Patriots.

Returning as finalists to the Watch List include five quarterbacks; Eastern Washington junior Vernon Adams – who was the runner-up to Garoppolo – Fordham senior Michael Nebrich, Southeastern Louisiana senior Bryan Bennett, Villanova junior John Robertson and Princeton senior Quinn Epperly.  South Dakota State senior running back Zach Zenner was also on last year’s list. 

Also nominated were quarterbacks Jordan Johnson of Montana, Alex Ross of Coastal Carolina and Michael Strauss of Richmond; running backs Rob Hollomon of Central Connecticut State, DaMarcus James of Jacksonville State, David Johnson of Northern Iowa, Shepard Little of Eastern Illinois and Keshaudas Spence of Sacred Heart; wide receivers Sam Ajala of Fordham, Kenny Cook of Gardner-Webb, R.J. Harris of New Hampshire and Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington; and tight end MyCole Pruitt of Southern Illinois.

All are seniors except Huesman, Robertson and Ross, who are juniors, and Kupp, a sophomore who was named the 2013 Jerry Rice Award winner as the FCS freshman of the year.  The breakdown by position: nine quarterbacks, six running backs, four wide receivers and one tight end.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.