PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Northern Arizona's Zach Bauman returns to the Walter Payton Award Watch List, announced today by the Sports Network. Bauman, a preseason pick in 2012, finished 17th overall in voting one year ago.
Bauman has recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons entering his senior year and is a three-time All-Big Sky selection. He is just 119 yards shy of breaking the NAU career rushing record.
Bauman looks to become the second Lumberjack in school history to win the award. NAU's Archie Amerson won the award in 1996.
Eleven finalists from last year's race - and a 12th from 2011 - are among the initial 20 nominees named Monday for the 27th annual award, which will be presented by The Sports Network to the outstanding player in the FCS on Dec. 16.
Returning to the Watch List as 2012 finalists are quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, Jamal Jackson of Appalachian State, Gavin McCarney of Colgate, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State and Wynrick Smothers of Central Arkansas; running backs Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona, Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State, Terrance West of Towson and Zach Zenner of South Dakota State; and wide receiver Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois.
The Watch List's breakdown is eight running backs, seven quarterbacks and five wide receivers.
The Payton Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2013 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation.