Posted: Jul 8, 2013 2:41 PM by Ted Dawson
Updated: Jul 8, 2013 2:49 PM
DeNarius McGhee, the top returning quarterback statistically in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), landed on the preseason Payton Award Watch List, announced by The Sports Network on Monday.
The news did not surprise long-time Bobcat coach Rob Ash. "I think DeNarius McGhee is one of the best quarterbacks ever to play FCS football," said Ash, in his third different decade coaching in the subdivision. "When you look at his record of success, it is almost incredible. He has an uncanny ability to lead his team, and he does it one play at a time, one third down conversion at a time, one score at a time, and one comeback at a time. He never gets rattled and he never quits, and he repeatedly finds a way to make a crucial play. But best of all, he is one of the most unselfish players I have ever coached."
McGhee, whose 9,116 yards and 71 touchdowns passing as a Bobcat stand as the most among returning FCS quarterbacks, was one of 20 players on the preseason Payton Watch List. His 30 wins as MSU's starting quarterback is the most in school history and among the Big Sky's all-time leaders, and he has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 37 of his 38 career games.
He is one of eight quarterbacks on the list, and is joined by running back Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona in representing the Big Sky Conference. The Payton list features the 2012 FCS rushing leader (Zach Zenner of South Dakota State), receptions leader (Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois) and scoring leader (Gavin McCarbey, Colgate). It includes 11 finalists from the 2012 list and three others from 2011. McGhee has been a Payton finalist in each of his three previous seasons at MSU, two of which resulted in Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP awards.
For all of McGhee's individual accolades, Ash says his quarterback's ability to combine talent with a laser-like concentration on team success is a defining trait. "DeNarius is never focused on individual awards," Ash said. "He has only ever focused on winning games with his team. And that is probably why he has won so many individual awards and deserves to win many more."
No Bobcat has won the Payton Award, but defensive end Caleb Schreibeis landed last year's Buck Buchanan Trophy as the FCS' top defensive player.
Last year's Payton Award winner, Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion, is not eligible for this year's award as his school transitions out of the FCS and plays as an independent. Players from Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, both still Southern Conference members, remain eligible.