Montana State vs. UT Martin

Montana State quarterback Tommy Mellott communicates with his teammates, including Isaiah Ifanse (22), before a play against UT Martin on Dec. 4, 2021 at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN — A pair of Montana State backfield players have been named to the 2022 Walter Payton Award preseason watch list, which Stats Perform announced Wednesday

MSU sophomore quarterback Tommy Mellott and senior running back Isaiah Ifanse are among the 35 players on the watch list for the award that goes to the Football Championship Subdivision's national offensive player of the year.

UC Davis senior running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr., the Big Sky preseason offensive MVP, also made the list. 

The Walter Payton Award went to a Big Sky player last year: Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere. 

No MSU player has won the award since it debuted in 1987. Montana quarterback Dave Dickenson received the honor in 1995.

Ifanse and Mellott both earned preseason All-America honors from Stats Perform.

Ifanse finished seventh in the 2021 Walter Payton Award voting after he set an MSU record for rushing yards in a season. The All-American from Bellevue, Washington, enters fall camp injured; he underwent knee surgery after the Bobcats' loss to North Dakota State in January's FCS title game.

Mellott didn't take MSU's starting QB job until last season's playoff opener, and he showcased dynamic dual-threat ability throughout the postseason. Mellott got hurt on the first drive of the FCS championship game and needed ankle surgery. He recovered in time for spring camp.

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