MACON, Ga. – With nine total touchdowns over the last three games, Mercer University redshirt freshman quarterback John Russ has been added to the Watch List for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the country at the FCS level.
Named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, the Rice Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.
The initial 20-player watch list was announced Oct. 9, but Russ has been added to the list and is joined by Central Arkansas wide receiver Jatavious Wilson as emerging candidates for the prestigious award.
The Rice Award, now in its third season, honors the top first-year player in the FCS, whether a true freshman or a redshirt freshman.
Russ has taken the Mercer offense on his back, leading the Bears to 40.7 points per game to rank No. 7 in the country in scoring offense. He ranks No. 2 in the Pioneer Football League with a 148.8 pass efficiency rating and has 92 completions, 16 touchdowns and 1,484 passing yards, while throwing just three interceptions.
He has also used his legs to rush for 587 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground to pace a ground game that ranks No. 2 in the nation at 292.3 rushing yards per contest.
Russ ranks No. 3 in the country in passing yards per completion at 16.13. He has eight pass completions of 40 or more yards, including a 93-yard touchdown pass for the longest FCS completion of the year.
The winner will be announced at The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
Russ and the Bears return to action Saturday and welcome Jacksonville to town in a key PFL contest. Kickoff against the Dolphins is slated for 3 p.m. at Mercer University Stadium.