Hamilton, Lewis join Walter Payton Award Watch List

(STATS) - Wide receivers Karel Hamilton of Samford and Kamron Lewis of Saint Francis can take comfort knowing the only FCS player with more receiving yards than them this season - barely, in fact - won last year's Walter Payton Award.

Hamilton and Lewis hope to reel in STATS' national offensive player of the year award, which they were nominated to on Wednesday. The Payton Award is celebrating its 30th anniversary season.

Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp, who won the 2015 Payton Award, leads the FCS with 1,230 receiving yards, just ahead of Lewis' 1,227 and Hamilton's 1,158.

The two new nominees:

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Karel Hamilton, Samford, WR, Sr., 6-1, 202, Valrico, Florida

In the Samford passing offense, Hamilton won't necessarily beat cornerbacks with the long ball, but he's going to beat them again and again and again. … Quarterback Devlin Hodges' sure-handed go-to receiver leads the FCS in receptions (95) and receptions per game (10.6) and ranks third in receiving yards per game (128.7). … He's athletic and will go get any pass near him. … Has had a tremendous career in the Southern Conference, starting with a spot on the 2013 all-freshman team and continuing with first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore and junior. He is the Bulldogs' all-time leader in receiving yards.

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Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, WR, So., 6-4, 195, Fresno, California

Lewis' breakout season has coincided with Saint Francis claiming its first Northeast Conference title and FCS playoff bid. … The wiry wideout has been a big-play specialist, ranking second in the nation in receiving yards and fourth in receiving yards per game (122.7) while averaging nearly 19 yards per catch. … Scored the final three touchdowns of a 38-17 win over Sacred Heart on Oct. 29, which gave the Red Flash control of the conference title race. … Has excellent hands, will go over defenders to make a catch and is adept at breaking the first tackle and picking up yards.

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The offensive watch list also includes:

Quarterbacks: Aaron Bailey of Northern Iowa, Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State, Dillon Buechel of Duquesne, Taryn Christion of South Dakota State, Case Cookus of Northern Arizona, Austin Gahafer of Morehead State, Gage Gubrud of Eastern Washington, Brady Gustafson of Montana, Devlin Hodges of Samford, KD Humphries of Murray State, Eli Jenkins of Jacksonville State, DeVante Kincade of Grambling State, Kyle Lauletta of Richmond, Anthony Lawrence of San Diego, Tyrell Maxwell of Gardner-Webb, RJ Noel of Sacred Heart, Peter Pujals of Holy Cross and Bryan Schor of James Madison;

Running backs: Khalid Abdullah of James Madison, Kendell Anderson of William & Mary, Tarik Cohen of North Carolina A&T, Derrick Craine of Chattanooga, Chase Edmonds of Fordham, Darius Hammond of Charleston Southern, Kade Harrington of Lamar, De'Angelo Henderson of Coastal Carolina, John Santiago of North Dakota, Lenard Tillery of Southern and Darius Victor of Towson;

Wide receivers: Emmanuel Butler of Northern Arizona, 2015 award winner Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington, Troy Pelletier of Lehigh, Justin Watson of Penn and Jake Wieneke of South Dakota State.

Tight end: Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State

Offensive tackle: Julie'n Davenport of Bucknell

A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award following the regular season. Also this season, STATS will present the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year), the Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and the Doris Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

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