Former Viking Usher named to Jerry Rice Award watch list

Former Northgate football player Payton Usher’s college career is off to a fast start at Mercer University.

The redshirt freshman and former Newnan Times-Herald Co-Offensive Player of the Year, has been named to the Jerry Rice Award watch list, which goes to the Football Championship Subdivision’s top freshman.

Usher ranks second in the Pioneer Football League with 483 total rushing yards after posting two 100-yard games in his first three collegiate contests, and rushing for 90 yards or more in each of his first four games.

“This is a great honor for Payton to be on the radar as one of the top freshmen in the country,” said head coach Bobby Lamb. “He has been the heart and soul of our program and represents the tireless work ethic of every player on our team.”

Mercer restarted its football program after a 72-year hiatus this season, opening with a 40-37 victory over Reinhardt which is coached by former long-time head coach Danny Cronic.

Usher made a huge impact in his debut to college football rushing for 115 yards. He also caught three catches.

The Northgate graduate has been putting up big numbers ever since to help the Bears to a 4-1 record.

Usher led the team win four in a row before losing to San Diego 45-13 last week for their first Pioneer League loss.

He ranks atop the PFL and No. 32 nationally at 129.0 all-purpose yards per game, including a career-high 202 yards in the season opener against Reinhardt.

Usher has been the workhorse in the backfield for the Bears, getting his number called 77 times and averaging 6.3 yards per carry to lead a rushing attack that ranks No. 12 in the country.

The Bears return to league action at home Saturday against Valparaiso.

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