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DeMarco, Grimes and Pierce On Early-Season Payton Watch List

Jul 11, 2011, 1:50 PM EDT

The race for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, sponsored by, kicked off Monday when The Sports Network announced Old Dominion’s Thomas DeMarco, William and Mary’s Jonathan Grimes and Delaware’s Andrew Pierce were among  a stellar 20-player Watch List for the Football Championship Subdivision’s top individual honor.

The Payton Award will celebrate its 25th anniversary this season and be presented to the FCS’ outstanding player at the national awards banquet Thursday night, Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.  This season’s winner will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Steve McNair, Ricky Santos, Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran, Armanti Edwards and 2010 winner Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin.

The Payton Award Watch List will undergo revision during the 2011 season.  Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation.

The Monarchs’ DeMarco averaged 250.5 yards passing per contest including passing for a career-high 407 yards at Monmouth last season. He also passed for over 300 yards against Jacksonville and No. 16 Cal Poly and threw for a career-high four touchdowns in games at Campbell, at Monmouth and against Cal Poly.  On the ground, the two-year starter ran for 423 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns as the Monarchs’ second leading rusher. He averaged 38.5 yards rushing per game, running for a pair of touchdowns at Hampton and against Savannah State.

Grimes, the most decorated student-athlete in CAA Football history having earned eight postseason honors in just three seasons, ranked fourth in the league piling up 887 rushing yards for a Tribe squad which won a share of the league title in 2010.  The senior who earned CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Year honors last season finished third in the league with a mark of 24.9 yards per kickoff return.  The Palmyra, N.J., native led the conference with 1,620 all-purpose yards in 2010 and moved into ninth place on the CAA Football career Top 10 list in the category.

Pierce enjoyed one of the finest seasons ever for a Blue Hen runner in 2010 as he rushed 329 times for 1,655 yards and 14 touchdowns. He set Delaware freshman records for carries in a season, yards rushing in a game (200 vs. Duquesne) and a season, rushing touchdowns in a season and total touchdowns (16) in a season. The league’s 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark seven times and averaged 126.5 yards per game in four NCAA playoff appearances. His 1,655 yards rushing was the second-highest single-season mark in Delaware history.

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