CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NAU football's Tim Wilkinson and R.J. Rickert were named by College Football Performance Awards, the largest awards organization in D-I college football, to its Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) watch list for defensive linemen and tight ends, respectively. The preliminary watch list highlights 38 returning defensive linemen and 32 tight ends from across the country who will vie for the top awards at both positions in the FCS.
"Congratulations to Tim Wilkinson and R.J. Rickert on earning a spot on the 2013 CFPA Watch List," said CFPA Executive Director Brad Smith. "Both are among the top returning performers at their position in the Big Sky Conference for the upcoming 2013 season."
Wilkinson, who battled injury through the beginning of the 2012 season, was a stalwart on the Lumberjack defensive line during the conference season after returning. His nine tackles and two sacks were instrumental in a 21-7 win over UC Davis on Oct. 20, as were his combined 11 tackles and two sacks in wins over Northern Colorado (12-10) and Idaho State (50-10).
Rickert, who appeared in 10 of NAU's 11 regular season games in 2012, averaged just over two receptions and 27 yards per game as Cary Grossart's top target coming off the line. His most productive games were the last two of the season, compiling 12 receptions, 91 yards, and a touchdown against Southern Utah and Cal Poly.
After the season ended, the Big Sky Conference honored both men by placing Wilkinson on its All-Big Sky second team and Rickert on it's All-Big Sky honorable mention squad. In addition, Wilkinson won NAU's Stevon Thomas Award, given to the year's most inspirational defensive player, while Rickert was named Offensive Sophomore of the Year.
All CFPA recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams. All players are eligible for awards at their respective positions.
More than 130 CFPA recipients have signed professional contracts, and twenty-one have been first-round NFL Draft selections. Past CFPA winners include: Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Trent Richardson (Alabama), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), Von Miller (Texas A&M), Alex Henery (Nebraska), Earl Thomas (Texas), and Patrick Peterson (LSU).
Multiple award presentations were broadcast live nationally on ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports, Big Ten Network, Pac 12 Network, as well as internationally on BYUtv in 2012. The full list of 2013 recipients, including the 2013 CFPA FCS Awards, will be announced on January 8, 2014.