(STATS) – The double teams and offensive schemes against them didn't stop the three players who on Wednesday were invited to the announcement of the 2016 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award.
The trio dominated throughout the regular season.
Linebacker Dylan Cole of Missouri State and defensive ends P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa are up for the 22nd annual Buchanan Award, the highest individual honor for a defensive player in the FCS. The winner will be announced at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas – on the eve of the national championship game.
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A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Buchanan Award, named for the legendary defensive lineman from Grambling State. There were 25 finalists from 13 FCS conferences.
Cole, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound fifth-year senior from Rogersville, Missouri, led the FCS with 142 tackles and 12.9 tackles per game during the regular season, also ranking first in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the second consecutive season. He had at least 13 tackles in nine games, including 19 in a road win over Southern Illinois. The All-MVFC first-team selection racked up 85 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups and three forced fumbles. A four-year starter, he finished his career with 454 tackles in 46 games.
Hall, a 6-1, 280-pound redshirt junior from Seguin, Texas, was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year after conference champion and top-ranked Sam Houston State finished the regular season as the only unbeaten team in the FCS. His 21 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles led the Southland and 9½ sacks tied for second. Additionally, he had 45 total tackles, including 27 solos, six pass breakups and three quarterback hurries. His 64 career tackles for loss are a school record and he's second with 32½ sacks.
Schult, a 6-4, 269-pound fifth-year senior from Tripoli, Iowa, was named the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year, posting an FCS-high 17 sacks, including at least one in 10 of his 11 games, and a school-record 24 tackles for loss (tied for second nationally) during the regular season. He tied the school record with 5½ tackles for loss against Montana. Additionally, his 69 total tackles led all defensive linemen in the conference and he had four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one interception, one blocked kick and one safety. He ended his career with 56 tackles for loss.
The Buck Buchanan Award voting reflected the regular season and was conducted before the start of the FCS playoffs.
The results for fourth through 25th place were as follows:
4. Darius Jackson, DE, Jacksonville State: 7-11-13-13-13-157
5. Tanah Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova: 9-11-10-5-7-136
6. Alex Searce, LB, Coastal Carolina: 4-17-2-6-4-110
7. Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois: 4-9-8-9-3-101
8. Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis: 1-9-7-8-10-88