CHICAGO, I.L. ( — South Dakota State University running back Pierre Strong, Jr. was added Wednesday to the official watch list for the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

A sophomore from Little Rock, Arkansas, Strong leads the Missouri Valley Football Conference – and ranks sixth nationally – in rushing with 975 yards for an average of 108.3 yards per game. He has topped the 100-yard mark four times this season and has scored seven rushing touchdowns, while adding 13 receptions for 167 yards and a score. Strong also ranks third among FCS players with an average of 7.62 yards per carry.

Strong is the second Jackrabbit player to be under consideration for the Payton Award this season, joining wide receiver Cade Johnson. A junior from Papillion, Nebraska, Johnson has tallied 40 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns so far in 2019.

A national panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Payton winner following the regular season. The STATS FCS Walter Payton Award will be presented Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the FCS national championship game.

The fourth-ranked Jackrabbits, 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the MVFC, host No. 11/12 Illinois State this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.