PHILADELPHIA-- Sophomore quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) and junior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) of the University of New Hampshire football team were both named to "The Sport Network's" Walter Payton Award Watch List heading into the team's season-opener on Sept. 3 at UC Davis.
Presented to the most outstanding player in I-AA football, the Walter Payton Award recipient will be announced on Dec. 15 in Chattanooga, Tenn. at the I-AA Football Awards Ceremony on the eve of the national championship game.
It marks the first time UNH has ever had two players on the watch list at the same time or in the same season. This also marks the second consecutive year that Santos has made an appearance among the top 16 and the first time for Ball during his Wildcat career.
Three players were selected from the Atlantic 10 Football conference. In addition to Santos and Ball, junior running back Steve Baylark from the University of Massachusetts was also included.
Santos, the 2004 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and the ECAC Rookie of the Year, finished ninth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award a year ago after passing for a UNH record 3,318 yards and a league-leading 31 touchdowns, also good for a Wildcat record.
Ball, the favorite target of Santos, broke UNH records and led the conference with 86 receptions, 17 touchdown catches and 125.3 yards per game en route to being named a first-team All-American by several media outlets, including "The Sports Network" and "The Walter Camp Foundation". He posted eight 100-yd-plus receiving performances a year ago, including a 284-yd receiving effort in a victory at Villanova, the fourth-highest single game total in Atlantic 10 history.
UNH has had one Walter Payton Award winner in its football history, as Jerry Azumah earned the honor in 1998. He is presently a defensive back and returner for the NFL's Chicago Bears. He was named to the 2004 Pro Bowl as a kick returner.