Oct. 3, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- Missouri State running back Ryan Heaston (Cordova, Tenn.) has been named to The Sport's Network's Jerry Rice Award Watch List, the organization announced Wednesday (Oct. 3).
The Rice Award, which honors the national freshman of the year at the NCAA Division I FCS level, is named for the legendary wide receiver who played at Mississippi Valley State. The award will be voted on following the regular season.
The watch list will grow to 20 finalists by season's end and currently includes Heaston and 15 other players from around the nation, including four others from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The list includes six quarterbacks, three running backs, one wide receiver, one all-purpose player, four linebackers and one strong safety.
Heaston is the top freshman running back in the nation, gaining 377 yards on just 64 carries (5.9 per attempt) through five games. He is also the club's top all-purpose gainer with 515 total yards, which breaks down to 103 total yards per game.
He is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts -- both as a reserve -- with 126 yards on 22 carries against Southern Illinois and 148 yards on 20 carries last week at South Dakota State. His five pass receptions and 183 all-purpose yards against No. 25 SDSU were both game highs. The redshirt freshman has collected over 100 all-purpose yards in three straight contests.
Heaston is just the fourth Missouri State freshman to collect multiple 100-yard rushing games in the same season, and his 148 ground yards at SDSU marked the highest single-game rushing total by an MSU rookie in the Division I era and second-highest ever.
The Bears and Heaston head to Indiana State this Saturday for a 2:05 p.m. (Central) kickoff against the Sycamores in a key conference game.
Other MVFC players on the watch list are: QB Sawyer Kollmorgen of UNI, LB T.J. Lally of South Dakota State; LB J.J. Raffelson of Western Illinois and WR Andre Stubbs of Youngstown State.
Towson's Terrance West won the inaugural Jerry Rice Award in 2011. In addition to the Rice Award, The Sports Network presents the Walter Payton, Buck Buchanan and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS, the Buchanan Award goes to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. All four major awards will be announced at the FCS national banquet on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.