TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indiana State senior Shakir Bell is one of 20 FCS student-athletes nationally to be named to the 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List as announced today (July 8) by The Sports Network. The Walter Payton Award is given annually to the top offensive player in FCS Football.
This marks the third consecutive season in which Bell has appeared on The Walter Payton Award Watch List. Bell finished tied for second in the voting back in 2011 when he became the first Indiana State Sycamore to be invited to the FCS Awards Presentation in Frisco, Texas. Last season, Bell finished 12th overall and was the second leading vote getter representing the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List is full of MVFC representation as Bell is joined by North Dakota State QB Brock Jensen, Northern Iowa RB David Johnson as well as South Dakota State RB Zach Zenner. The MVFC leads the nation with four honorees on the initial watch list.
Bell has already earned First Team Preseason All-America honors from The Sports Network this summer and last season he was named to the Associated Press All-American Third Team after picking up four different first team honors in 2011. He was named First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012 and finished third in the MVFC Offensive Player Of The Year balloting. He was also named to The Sports Network FCS All-American Team last year and is the first Sycamore to earn back-to-back All-America honors since Richard Harris did it in 2000 & 2001.
Bell was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player Of The Year in 2011.
Bell finished as the Sycamores' leading rusher in 2012 with 269 attempts for 1,475 yards (third-best ever at Indiana State) and 11 TDs, with a long rush of 64 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per rush and 134.1 yards per game. He set the MVFC single-game rushing record with 349 yards on the ground against Drake and was named MVFC and National Offensive Player Of The Week following that game. Bell finished second in the league in rushing yards per game and sixth nationally (134.1 rushing yards per game) while his 134.1 yards of total offense per game ranked 10th in the MVFC. He averaged 6.55 points per game, which was sixth in the MVFC and tied for 77th nationally while his 147.0 all-purpose yards per game was second in the league and 17th in FCS.
He enters the 2013 campaign with 3,794 rushing yards for his career which is third on the Sycamore all-time list. He needs just 542 yards on the ground during his senior campaign to become Indiana State's all-time leading rusher and eclipse the total of 4,335 yards set by Vincent Allen from 1973-77. His 3,794 career rushing yards ranks 11th all-time in the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and he needs 953 to top Herb Donaldson's record of 4,746 set from 2005-08 at Western Illinois.
Past winners of the FCS' most coveted award include Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Brian Finneran, John Friesz and Armanti Edwards, the only two-time recipient.
The Payton Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2013 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation.
The Sports Network also presents the Buck Buchanan, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Buchanan Award honors the outstanding defensive player in the FCS, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. The winners of those three awards will be invited to the national awards banquet along with the top three vote-getters for the Payton Award.
Indiana State begins preseason practice on August 1 with the opener coming on August 29 at 7:00 p.m. (ET) against Indiana in a game that will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.