North Dakota State University free safety Christian Dudzik and wide receiver Ryan Smith have been named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) FCS Punt Returner Watch List announced July 15 by executive director Brad Smith. NDSU is one of only three programs to have multiple players on the list, joining Jacksonville and South Carolina State.
Dudzik, a 5-foot-10, 184-pound junior from Omaha, Neb. (Skutt Catholic H.S.), returned six punts for an average of 22.2 yards per return last year including a season-long 76 yard jaunt vs. South Dakota (10-20-12). He was honorable mention on the 2012 all-Missouri Valley Football Conference team. Defensively, Dudzik was fourth on the team with 57 tackles including 30 solos, four pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Smith, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound junior from Wahpeton, N.D. (Wahpeton H.S.), ranked 15th nationally in NCAA FCS punt returns with 189 yards and one TD on 18 returns (10.5 avg/r). He was a second team all-MVFC selection at both wide receiver and return specialist last season. Smith led the Bison with 49 receptions for 549 yards and three TDs, averaging 11.2 yards per catch. He also added 107 yards and three TDs on 12 rushing attempts.
All CFPA recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams. All players are eligible for awards at their respective positions; players are not preemptively eliminated from consideration.
Twelve Bison players have earned spots on the 2013 CFPA FCS Watch Lists, including quarterback Brock Jensen, running back Sam Ojuri, tight end Kevin Vaadeland, defensive ends Kyle Emanuel and Cole Jirik, linebackers Carlton Littlejohn and Grant Olson, cornerback/kick returner Marcus Williams, placekicker Adam Keller and punter Ben LeCompte.
The full list of 2013 recipients, including the FCS Awards, will be announced Jan. 8, 2014.
North Dakota State opens the 2013 season on Aug. 30 at Kansas State, televised nationally on Fox Sports 1. NDSU won its second straight NCAA Division I FCS championship with a 39-13 win over Sam Houston State in January 2013 and also claimed the program's second Missouri Valley Football Conference title. The Bison were 14-1 overall and 7-1 in MVFC.
2013 College Football Performance Awards FCS Punt Returner List
Niccolo Mastromatteo, Coastal Carolina
Gary Hunter, Dayton
J.J. Hubbard, Gardner-Webb
Tray Butler, Georgia Southern
Terrance Bryant, Jacksonville
D'Andre Randle, Jacksonville
Dae'Quan Scott, JMU
Jamel Smith, Lafayette
Laquan Lambert, Lehigh
*Kevin Fogg, Liberty
Diontae Spencer, McNeese State
Julian Burton, Missouri State
Shawn Johnson, Montana State
Walter Powell, Murray State
Keith Johnson, Norfolk State
D'Vonte Graham, North Carolina A&T
Adrian Wilkins, North Carolina Central
Christian Dudzik, North Dakota State
Ryan Smith, North Dakota State
Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion
Cedric Byrd, Presbyterian
Ben Edwards, Richmond
Morris Norrise, Sacramento State
Sam Hoekstra, San Diego
Darius Drummond, South Carolina State
Steven Murphy, South Carolina State
Tony McCrea, Southeastern Louisiana
LaSteven McKinney, Southern Illinois
Virgil Williams, Southern University
Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
Weldon Garlington, Tennessee State
Poppy Livers, Villanova
Octavious Harden, Wofford
*--Returning CFPA FCS Award Winner