YSU senior defensive end Derek Rivers is among a group of 22 players who was named to the 2016 FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List which was released on Friday. Rivers is one of six finalists from last year to be on this year's Watch List.
A preseason first-team All-American, Rivers holds the school's career record for sacks with 26 entering his senior campaign. He is a two-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection and was tabbed preseason all-league for 2016.
Returning finalists are linebackers Christian Kuntz of Duquesne and Kourtney Berry of Alabama State; defensive ends Keionta Davis of Chattanooga, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State and Rivers; and cornerback Dee Delaney of The Citadel. Kuntz, the Northeast Conference defensive player of the year, finished the highest at No. 11 in the national voting last season.
Also named to the watch list were defensive ends Pat Afriyie of Colgate, Andrew Ankrah of James Madison, Anthony Ellis of Charleston Southern, Javancy Jones of Jackson State, Caleb Kidder of Montana, Greg Menard of North Dakota State, Ebenezer Ogundeko of Tennessee State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa; linebackers Dylan Cole of Missouri State, Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State, Darius Leonard of South Carolina State, Folarin Orimolade of Dartmouth and James Rentz of Sacred Heart; cornerback Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire; and safeties David Jones of Richmond and Donald Payne of Stetson.
The breakdown by position for the preseason watch list: 11 defensive ends, seven linebackers and four defensive backs. All 13 FCS conferences had at least one nominee, with the most coming from the Missouri Valley (five) and CAA Football (three).
The Penguins offense will have their hands full with Kuntz (Duquesne), Menard (NDSU), Schult (UNI), Cole (MSU) and DeLuca (NDSU) all on the schedule this season.