PHILADELPHIA – University of Delaware's Andrew Pierce has earned a spot on the prestigious 2012 Walter Payton Award Watch List.
Pierce, a junior running back from Bridgeton, N.J. (Cumberland Regional High School), was among 20 athletes named to the Watch List. The Payton Award, sponsored by The Sports Network for the 26th year, is presently annually to the top offensive player in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Pierce was one of 12 players who were finalists for the award last year. Also a pre-season TSN All-American, Pierce finished 14th in the Payton Award voting last season.
The award is selected by media relations directors from FCS member schools and media members who cover those teams. After the season, the most outstanding player in the FCS will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Steve McNair, John Friesz, Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran, Armanti Edwards, and 2011 winner Bo Levi Mitchell.
In addition to Pierce, the 2011 finalists returning to the Watch List are quarterbacks Casey Brockman of Murray State, DeNarius McGhee of Montana State, and Brad Sorensen of Southern Utah; running backs Shakir Bell of Indiana State, Jordan Brown of Bryant, Jamaine Cook of Youngstown State, Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State, and Terrance West of Towson; fullback Eric Breitenstein of Wofford; and wide receivers Aaron Mellette of Elon and Rodrick Rumble of Idaho State.
Despite being just a junior, Pierce already enters the 2012 season ranked third among active FCS leaders in rushing attempts (608) and rushing yards per game (112.8) and fourth in total rushing yardage (2,934) and rushing touchdowns (30).
Pierce carried 279 times for 1,279 yards and 16 touchdowns during the 2011 season when he led the CAA in carries while ranking third in rushing with 116.3 yards per game and second in touchdowns. A second team All-CAA selection, he also ranked 10th in the NCAA in scoring and was 13th in rushing yard per game. He came on stronger at the end of the season, surpassing the 100-yard mark in each of the last three games, including a 215-yard performance vs. Richmond. He also ranked second on the team in receptions with 42 catches for 212 yards.
He burst on to the season as a freshman in 2010 when he rushed for 1,655 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named third team All-American by The Sports Network. That same season, he also was named CAA Rookie of the Year, ECAC All-East Rookie of the Year, Phil Steele College Football National Freshman of the Year, and the College Sporting News Co-Freshman of the Year.
Delaware, which advanced to the NCAA national championship game in 2010, posted a 7-4 record in 2011, just missing a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach K.C. Keeler welcomes back 13 starters this season. The Blue Hens will begin pre-season camp the first week of August in preparation for the season opener Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. West Chester at 7:30 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.