GREENVILLE, S.C. — Furman running back Dominic Roberto is among 35 players named to the 2023 Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List, presented by FedEx Ground, it was announced today by Stats Perform.

The Walter Payton Award is presented to the national offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Roberto, a 5-foot-11, 232-pound redshirt senior, is coming off an impressive 2022 season that saw him rush for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns that helped power Furman to a 10-3 season.  The campaign featured seven consecutive wins and an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs, where the Paladins claimed a 31-6 first round home win over CAA member Elon. The Paladins finished 2022 a consensus 10th in AFCA and Stats Perform polls.

The Fayetteville, N.C. product, who landed consensus All-SoCon honors a year ago and was recently named to the preseason all-conference squad, has registered impressive numbers against SoCon foes — namely Western Carolina (448 yds., 9.1 ypc, 6 TDs last two games) and The Citadel (265 yds., 8.8 ypc, 3 TDs last two games).  Elected by his teammates as a squad co-captain, he enters his final season with 2,143 career rushing yards, good for 12th in program history.

Roberto is bidding to become the second Paladin to win the Walter Payton Award.  In 2000 All-America running back Louis Ivory took home the prestigious trophy after rushing for a FCS (then NCAA I-AA) season leading 2,079 yards at 16 touchdowns, including a Furman record 301 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-10 win over Georgia Southern.

2023 Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List


Bret Bushka, Butler, R-Sr., 5-10, 205 (Pioneer Football League)

Zach Calzada, UIW, Gr., 6-4, 217 (Southland Conference)

Theo Day, Northern Iowa, R-Sr., 6-5, 231 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Cole Doyle, Saint Francis, R-Jr., 5-10, 170 (Northeast Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Zevi Eckhaus, Bryant, Jr., 6-1, 205 (Big South-OVC Football Association)

Mark Gronowski, South Dakota State, Jr., 6-3, 220 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Nolan Grooms, Yale, Sr., 6-2, 188 (Ivy League)

Miles Hastings, UC Davis, Jr., 6-1, 189 (Big Sky Conference)

Michael Hiers, Samford, Sr., 6-1, 211 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Gevani McCoy, Idaho, R-So., 6-2, 185 (Big Sky Conference)

Parker McKinney, Eastern Kentucky, R-Sr., 6-3, 208 (United Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Tommy Mellott, Montana State, Jr., 6-0, 209 (Big Sky Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Justin Miller, Southern Utah, R-Sr., 6-3, 210 (United Athletic Conference)

Reese Poffenbarger, UAlbany, R-So., 6-0, 210 (CAA Football)

Davius Richard, North Carolina Central, Sr., 6-3, 215 (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Tommy Schuster, North Dakota, Sr., 6-0, 195 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross, Sr., 6-3, 215 (Patriot League) – 2022 Finalist

Running Backs

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 220 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Ailym Ford, Chattanooga, R-Sr., 5-9, 213 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Narii Gaither, Gardner-Webb, Sr., 5-10, 181 (Big South-OVC Football Association)

Malik Grant, Sacred Heart, Gr., 5-9, 200 (Northeast Conference) – 2021 Finalist

Geno Hess, Southeast Missouri, R-Sr., 5-8, 222 (Big South-OVC Football Association) – 2021 and 2022 Finalist

Jarveon Howard, Alcorn State, Sr., 5-10, 200 (Southwestern Athletic Conference)

Dylan Laube, New Hampshire, Sr., 5-10, 204 (CAA Football)

ShunDerrick Powell, Central Arkansas, Jr., 5-7, 168 (United Athletic Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Dominic Roberto, Furman, R-Sr., 5-11, 231 (Southern Conference)

Jaden Shirden, Monmouth, Jr., 5-9, 185 (CAA Football) – 2022 Finalist

TaMerik Williams, North Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 227 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Bronson Yoder, William & Mary, Sr., 5-11, 205 (CAA Football)

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Jalen Coker, Holy Cross, Sr., 6-3, 207 (Patriot League)       

Devron Harper, Mercer, Sr., 5-9, 168 (Southern Conference) – 2022 Finalist

Hayden Hatten, Idaho, R-Jr., 6-2, 205 (Big Sky Conference)

Ty James, Mercer, R-Sr., 6-2, 200 (Southern Conference)

Jaxon Janke, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-3, 210 (Missouri Valley Football Conference)

Marshel Martin, Sacramento State, Sr., 6-2, 210 (Big Sky Conference)