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In the FCS Huddle: Buchanan Award race is deep

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2014 Buck Buchanan Award might be kept out of Montana State, but perhaps not the Big Sky Conference.

The last two recipients of the FCS' outstanding defensive player honor were defensive ends from Montana State. Although no Bobcats made the 20-player Watch List on Thursday, three Big Sky players did. That's not surprising considering the conference from the western end of the FCS has claimed six of the last 11 Buchanans.

The Buchanan will celebrate its 20th anniversary this season and be presented by The Sports Network at the FCS national awards banquet on Dec. 15. Past recipients include two-time winner Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen (the first Big Sky winner in 2003), Rashean Mathis, Kroy Biermann and Montana State's back- to-back winners Caleb Schreibeis in 2012 and Brad Daly last season.

Two-time defending Big Sky champion Eastern Washington features a returning finalist in senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, who finished 12th a year ago. Five of the Big Sky winners have been defensive ends, and this year the conference has two nominees at the position in Southern Utah junior James Cowser and Montana senior Zack Wagenmann.

Five other nominees were finalists last season: Coastal Carolina linebacker Quinn Backus, who was seventh; Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail, eighth; Chattanooga defensive end Davis Tull, 13th; Missouri State safety Caleb Schaffitzel, 15th; and Harvard defensive end Zach Hodges, 16th. Each is a senior this season.

Also nominated to the Watch List were defensive tackles O.J. Mau of Gardner- Webb and Troy Moore of Sacred Heart, defensive ends Mike Reilly of William & Mary and Jonathan Woodard of Central Arkansas, linebackers Tony Bell of UT Martin and Stephen Hodge of Fordham, cornerbacks Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana and Tye Smith of Towson, and safeties Daniel Fitzpatrick of Tennessee State, Jacob Hagen of Liberty, Colten Heagle of three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State and Jaquiski Tartt of Samford. Each is a senior except Mau, Miller and Woodard, who are juniors.

It's a widespread list that breaks down to six defensive ends, five linebackers, five safeties, two defensive tackles and two cornerbacks. The Big South Conference, like the Big Sky, has the most nominees with three (Backus, Hagen and Mau).

Among the returnees, Backus plays bigger than his 5-foot-10, 215-pound size, having already captured Big South defensive player of the year honors after both his sophomore (2012) and junior (2013) seasons.

Trail, a hulking 6-7, 260 pounds, disrupted offenses a year ago with 12.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, eight pass breakups, 10 quarterback hurries and five forced fumbles. Fellow linebacker Hamlin enters his senior season ranked third in Eastern Washington history with 361 tackles.

A year ago, Tull became the first player to repeat as Southern Conference defensive player of the year since Coakley won three straight from 1994-96.

Schaffitzel has a nose for the ball, having racked up 110 tackles as a safety last season. Hodges possesses the same trait, as evidenced by his 18.5 career sacks entering his senior season.

The Buck Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2014 season. Ballots will be sent to a national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.

The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award is bestowed upon the FCS coach of the year.

The 2014 FCS Awards package can be found at http://tinyurl.com/n5ysh8x.

07/10 09:27:02 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
 
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
 
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
 
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
 
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
 
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
 
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
 
4th
WAKE 17
BC 23
 
4th
BUF 14
CMICH 20
 
4th
MARS 28
FATL 16
 
4th
PITT 21
GT 35
 
4th
SMISS 13
LATU 17
 
4th
MSU 28
MICH 3
 
3rd
KENT 17
MSST 31
 
4th
STAN 38
ORST 7
 
3rd
TCU 47
TTU 20
 
4th
OKST 10
WVU 20
 
3rd
WKENT 49
ODU 37
 
3rd
UTST 24
UNLV 13
 
3rd
MIZZ 10
VANDY 7
 
2nd
UCF 24
TEMPL 7
 
1st
WASU 0
ARZ 7
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLEM
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
LAMON
TXST
7:00pm Tonight
TXSANANTO
UTEP
7:00pm Tonight
COLST
WYO
7:15pm Tonight
LSU
MISS
7:30pm Tonight
TENN
ALA
7:30pm Tonight
AUB
SCAR
8:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
USC
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
3rd
SJS 1
BUF 2
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
BOS
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DET
7:00pm Tonight
OTT
NJD
7:00pm Tonight
MON
NYR
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
PIT
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
TAM
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
FLA
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
WAS
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14