(STATS) – Buck Buchanan surely would have appreciated the game-changing talents of the three players who will decide the highest individual defensive honor in the FCS.
Defensive ends Andrew Ankrah of James Madison and Darius Jackson of Jacksonville State, along with linebacker Brett Taylor of Western Illinois, were invited on Tuesday to the announcement of the 2017 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award winner.
The award, named for Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer and since 1995 given annually to the outstanding defensive player in the subdivision, will be presented at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas – on the eve of the national championship game. Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel are among the past winners who have gone on to the NFL.
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Ankrah, Jackson and Taylor have dominated throughout their senior seasons.
Ankrah, the CAA Football defensive player of the year, has played a huge part of defending FCS champion James Madison winning a third straight conference title and getting back to the playoff quarterfinals with a 12-0 record. The 6-foot-4, 248-pounder from Gaithersburg, Maryland, has filled the box score with 49 tackles, 13 1/2 tackles for loss, 7 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two quarterback hurries and a defensive touchdown.
Jackson was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s defensive player of the year for the second consecutive season, leading the Gamecocks (10-2) to a fourth straight conference title and into the playoffs. A native of Bessemer, Alabama, the 6-3, 237-pounder broke his own school single-season record with 20 1/2 tackles for loss (for 116 yards) while also collecting 55 tackles, seven sacks, 23 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Taylor stayed in his hometown of Macomb to attend Western Illinois and star for the Leathernecks. The Missouri Valley Football Conference’s defensive player of the year, he’s No. 1 in the FCS in tackles (162) and tackles per game (13.5). While leading WIU (8-4) to the playoffs, the 6-2, 230-pounder also totaled 13 tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
A national panel of 151 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Buck Buchanan Award following the regular season.
The results for fourth through 25th place were as follows:
4. Jonathan Petersen, DE, San Diego: 7-8-18-11-4-147
5. Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State: 9-12-6-11-10-143
6. Mike Basile, S, Monmouth: 6-10-9-13-6-129
7. Ahmad Gooden, DE, Samford: 2-11-10-13-9-119
8. P.J. Hall, DL, Sam Houston State: 7-8-6-6-11-108
9. Anthony Ellis, DE, Charleston Southern: 4-5-8-8-9-89