3 Villanova seniors were named to the Walter Payton Trophy Watch List, given annually to the most outstanding offensive player in FCS. RB/WR Matt Szczur, OT Ben Ijalana and QB Chris Whitney are all on the list. Szczur was a write-in candidate (I would hope so) for the award last year, and finished 21st in voting (what the...).
Below are the profiles for the 3 Wildcats as written by The Sports Network:
Szczur (pronounced Caesar) is one of the most explosive, and feared, players in the FCS. He capped his junior season as The Sports Network First Team All-America all-purpose player by earning Most Valuable Player honors in Villanova's 23-21 win over Montana in the national championship game. He rushed for a career-high 159 yards (while leading the Wildcat-style offense) as well as two touchdowns, and had 270 all-purpose yards. For the season, the speedy Szczur totaled 2,239 all-purpose yards - 610 on receptions, 813 on carries and 816 on kickoff returns - and 15 touchdowns. He was the only player in Division I (FBS or FCS) to register a touchdown as a receiver, rusher, passer and kick returner. He has totaled 4,345 all-purpose yards in his career. A versatile baseball standout, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft (160th overall pick).
It says a lot when a player is named the CAA Football first-team quarterback. And Whitney's season in 2009 speaks volumes about his talent. Villanova finished with a 14-1 record and won the FCS championship as he rushed for a team-high 987 yards as well as six touchdowns, and completed 159-of-247 passes (64.4 percent) for 1,936 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. In a season-opening win over bowl-bound Temple, Whitney was 24-for-35 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He rushed for at least 100 yards four times, including in the FCS Championship Game against Montana. For his career, Whitney has completed 65 percent of his passes for 33 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Whitney, a CAA all-academic selection in 2008 and '09, is an intense competitor who thrives on physical play. He has a 25-5 record as Villanova's starting quarterback, with each loss coming against a Top 15-ranked opponent.
If it seems like The Sports Network First Team All-America has been around a long time, consider that he has started all 39 games of his career at Villanova. Don't be surprised this season if some defensive linemen call in sick on the day they have to face Ijalana. The left tackle for the defending FCS champions, he is considered the top offensive lineman in the entire division. Last season, he helped pave the way for the Wildcats to rank fourth nationally in rushing yards per game (240.3). Head coach Andy Talley lauds his protégé for his all-around style. Big Ben is agile and quick for his size as well as strong and consistent. Ijalana was named to the CAA Football first team in each of the past two seasons. He should be one of the first FCS players to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.
...Nod to VUHoops for the link...