Former Walker Valley three-sport star and current UT-Chattanooga standout Bryce Nunnelly has been named to a pair of Pre-season All-American teams, as well as the Walter Payton Award Watch List. (UTC Athletics Photo: Frank Mattia)
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior receiver Bryce Nunnelly is one of 25 on the 2019 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List released this week.
The Payton Award goes to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and is presented annually by STATS FCS Football.
The Payton Award was first given in 1987 and has included such winners as Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Brian Westbrook (Villanova), John Friesz (Idaho), Brian Finneran (Villanova), Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) and Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington).
Nunnelly garnered multiple preseason All-American nods, and he is also on the Southern Conference preseason first team thus far. He has been named to the STATS Preseason All-American and HeroSports.com Preseason All-American lists.
He was second in the SoCon and sixth in the nation with 112.5 receiving yards per game last season. He also ranked third in the league and No. 8 in the country with 7.2 receptions per game.
Nunnelly is the seventh Moc to be named to the Payton Award Watch List, including Derrick Craine (2016), Jacob Huesman (2014 and 2015), B.J. Coleman (2011), Alonzo Nix (2004), Cos DeMatteo (2001) and Chris Sanders (2000). Sanders placed ninth in the final voting in 2000, while Huesman was 11th in both 2014 and 2015.
Nunnelly was known for his big-play ability last season, posting 11 catches of 40 or more yards. The Mocs only had five of those plays as a team in 2017.
He opened the last season with seven catches for 161 yards and an 89-yard score against Tennessee Tech.
He followed that with National Player of the Week honors, posting 10 catches for 268 yards and two TDs at The Citadel.
He recorded six 100-yard receiving games, including a school-record four in a row to start the season. He closed out the year with five catches for 141 yards at South Carolina, which was the most receiving yards by a Moc against an SEC opponent since Rocky Turner had 198 at Ole Miss on Nov. 13, 1971.
He was just as impressive in the classroom with a 3.8 grade point average, earning Academic All-SoCon and CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District as a mechanical engineering major. A recipient of the Parks McCall Memorial Athletic Scholarship, Nunnelly has played in 19 games with 11 starts over the last two years.
There are only five juniors and a total of seven receivers on this year's initial Payton watch list. More players can join the watch list during the season. A national panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the winner following the regular season.
The Mocs opener is set for Thursday, Aug. 29, against Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. at Finley Stadium.
UTC Wide Receiver Bryce Nunnelly has been named to the Pre-season All-Southern Conference Team as he enters his junior season. (Photo: Derek Daniel)