August 25, 2017

(STATS) - All FCS players and coaches stand at the starters' line together for the most storied individual awards in the subdivision, but it's easy to anticipate who could move off with the best cases come voting time in late November.

The STATS FCS Walter Payton Award - the Heisman of the FCS - returns its 2016 recipient, Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, who seeks to become just the second two-time winner, joining Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards (2008 and '09).

Briscoe's teammate P.J. Hall is right in the mix for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award (national defensive player of the year) and the STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award (national coach of the year) always has a great storyline.

The STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award for national freshman of the year, well, those favorites will start to develop early in the season - much to the dismay of opposing teams.

Here are some of the favorites for the Payton, Buchanan and Robinson awards going into the 2017 season:

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STATS FCS Walter Payton Award (FCS Offensive Player of the Year)

1. Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State - With all of his offensive weapons returning, the 2016 Payton winner will put up other-worldly numbers like last year's FCS-record 57 touchdown passes.

2. Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham - With 5,285 career rushing yards, the three-time Payton finalist is on pace to set the all-time rushing record in the FCS.

3. Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington - Third in the Payton voting last season, Gubrud set the FCS single-season record for passing yards (5,160).

4. Bryan Schor, QB, James Madison - The reigning FCS champion Dukes will keep winning behind the dual-threat's efficient play and leadership.

5. Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State - The 2016 Missouri Valley Conference offensive player of the year benefits from throwing to two future NFL players, tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke.

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STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award (FCS Defensive Player of the Year)

1. P.J. Hall, DE, Sam Houston State - Last year's Buchanan runner-up will keep dominating offensive linemen, adding to his career totals of 36 sacks and 67 tackles for loss.

2. Darius Jackson, DE, Jacksonville State - Effective as a pass rusher and dropping back in coverage, the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the year fronts a dominating unit.

3. Nick DeLuca, LB, North Dakota State - Back from a shoulder injury that ended his 2016 season in September, DeLuca is a tackle machine in the middle of the Bison's vaunted defense.

4. Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State - A 19-tackle performance against Clemson as a junior underscores how Leonard fills the box score.

5. Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois - Taylor is seeking a three-peat as the Missouri Valley tackle leader.

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STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award (FCS Coach of the Year)

1. Mike Houston, James Madison - A repeat of last season and this would appear to be a slam dunk.

2. Broderick Fobbs, Grambling State - The Tigers had fallen on hard times before Fobbs' arrival, but he has them as SWAC and Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl champs after three seasons.

3. John Stiegelmeier, South Dakota State - It's easy to substitute North Dakota State's Chris Klieman here, but if SDSU beats the Bison for a second consecutive season, "Coach Stig" would gain an upper hand.

4. John Grass, Jacksonville State - The Gamecocks haven't lost a non-FBS regular-season game under Grass, and that includes three straight sweeps of the OVC.

5. Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas - The momentum from a win over Sam Houston State on Sept. 30 would carry through the final two months of the regular season.

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