Vanlier among nation's top kick returners on CFPA Watch List

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Not unfamiliar to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA), sophomore kick returner Ladarius Vanlier has racked up his second honor from the organization after being named to the 2013 CFPA Watch List of top kick returners.

The preliminary watch list highlights 34 returning performers, vying for the top individual kick returner award in the Football Championship Subdivision.

"Congratulations to Tennessee Tech's Ladarius Vanlier on earning a spot on the 2013 CFPA Watch List," said CFPA Executive Director Brad Smith. "A precocial Golden Eagles return specialist, Vanlier registered a kick return touchdown in his fifth collegiate game."

Last season, former Golden Eagle and current Buffalo Bills rookie Da'Rick Rogers earned the CFPA Elite Wide Receiver Award. Vanlier joins current teammate and Tech punter Chad Zinchini on a CFPA Watch List for the preseason.

Vanlier proved to be one of the most elusive players in the OVC in 2012, earning second-team honors as a freshman. He was selected as a return specialist after averaging 20.9 yards per kickoff return and 8.0 yards on punt returns. Vanlier had one kick return for a touchdown, a 94-yard romp at Murray State, and was such a dangerous deep man that teams found ways to kick anywhere on the field except to him. Vanlier had 32 kickoff returns, just two short of the school record for most in a season, after setting school single-game records for most punt returns and most punt return yards.

Four kick returners from the Ohio Valley Conference are included in the list of 34 top return men who will be competing this season in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Conference kick returners joining Vanlier on the Watch List are Gabriel Chambers of Jacksonville State, Cyrus Strahm of Morehead State, Duane Brady of Murray State, and Kevin Barfield of UT Martin.

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.

More than 130 CFPA recipients have signed professional contracts, and twenty-one have been first-round NFL Draft selections.

The CFPA Kickoff Returner Award dates back to 2008 with Alabama's Javier Arenas earning the inaugural award. Other CFPA recipients performing as NFL return specialists include: Tavon Austin (West Virginia), Giovani Bernard (North Carolina), C.J. Spiller (Clemson), Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech), Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Golden Tate (Notre Dame), LaMichael James (Oregon), Laron Scott (Georgia Southern), Damian Williams (USC), Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma), Eric Page (Toledo), Cliff Harris (Oregon), Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State), Asa Jackson (Cal Poly), Tyrann Mathieu (LSU), Joe Adams (Arkansas), Fozzy Whittaker (Texas), Jerodis Williams (Furman), Miguel Maysonet (Stony Brook), and Reggie Dunn (Utah).

The full list of 2013 recipients, including the 2013 CFPA FCS Awards, will be announced on January 8, 2014.

The 2013 CFPA FCS Punters Watch List:

• Kevin Chillis, Albany
• Chris Nicholls, Cal Poly
• Kirby Schoenthaler, Dartmouth
• Michael Johnson, Delaware
• Ryan Ho, Duquesne
• Shaquille Hill, Eastern Washington
• Jorrian Washington, Hampton
• Rodney Tyson, Howard
• Tanner Riley, Indiana State
• Gabriel Chambers, Jacksonville State
• Kevin Johnson, Lamar
• Cyrus Strahm, Morehead State
• Chris Flowers, Morgan State
• Duane Brady, Murray State
• Julian Stafford, MVSU
• Wes Smith, Northern Iowa
• Ed Eagan, Northwestern State
• Eric Fiore, Pennsylvania
• Johnta Hebert, Prairie View A&M
• Anthony Gaffney, Princeton
• Justin Grant, Richmond
• Xavier Roberson, Southeastern Louisiana
• Josh Smith, Southern Utah
• Dane Domonkos, St. Francis (PA)
• Ladarius Vanlier, Tennessee Tech
• Derrick Joseph, Towson
• Jonathan Perkins, UC Davis
• Kevin Barfield, UT Martin
• Otis Wright, Wagner
• Cordero Dixon, Weber State